High School Pranks and Punishment

High school students in Connecticut, Florida, and Minnesota penalized for their senior pranks.

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Pulling off a prank on a high school campus is a rite of passage for graduating seniors. Most pranks are harmless and innocent, but some can be dangerous and costly. Pranksters who cross the line face serious consequences, ranging from suspension to jail time. Here is a look at some senior pranks this year that some people found amusing and others found shocking and offensive. You decide if the punishment fits the crime.

Staff members at Hernando High School in Brooksville, Fla., spent several days fielding phones calls from angry parents who had received letters saying the school was giving up on teaching sex education because "let's be honest, ALL of our students are sexually active." The letters, which were printed on official school letterhead, told parents that it was now their responsibility to teach their kids about sex. Each letter came with a wrapped condom. "After numerous years of educating students about the principles of benefits of abstinence we have found it to be unsuccessful. Our very own Little Leopard Land is overflowing with little leopard cubs. Obviously, our attempts have proved futile," it said. It turns out that the letters were sent by two seniors who had stolen the school letterhead and gained access to mailing labels for the families of about 400 sophomores enrolled at the school. Many parents believed that the letters were real until they read the closing remarks, which instructed parents to contact school officials with raunchy names similar to those of characters in an Austin Powers movie. The two culprits are now looking at a suspension—except that school already has let out for the summer.

A senior at Staples High School in Westport, Conn.— a U.S. News bronze medal winner—who brought a pony to school as part of a prank and also to protest rising gas prices faces a charge of breach of peace after police intervened. The teenager had walked to school with her sister's little pony, Cocoa, and signs that said "Save Gas" and "Staples 2008". The girl's father was driving behind her, with the vehicle's lights flashing. Administrators called police and complained that the stunt had compromised the safety of students, who were stopping to pet the pony. The girl's father told the Hartford Courant that the pony, which can't see out of one eye, didn't pose any danger to students. "It's a fat old pony," he said. "He looks like something out of a cartoon. The only danger is if you're a carrot."

Three seniors at Kennedy High School in Bloomington, Minn., were suspended after waving Confederate flags in the student parking lot as parents and students arrived at school. The students said it was a prank, but the school's principal, who is African-American, thought differently. The mother of one of the boys defended the three, saying they had no idea that waving a Confederate flag could convey racist views. "They were just being silly," she told the Pioneer Press of St. Paul, Minn. She said the kids are all fans of engines, pickup trucks, and The Dukes of Hazzard. The students were barred from participating in their commencement ceremony.


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