Updated: Western High School senior pranks go too far, events canceled
Western High School Principal Alisha Trusty has canceled two highly anticipated events that were scheduled for soon-to-be graduates, after some senior pranks apparently crossed the line.
In a letter to parents on Friday, Trusty announced that the school has canceled Western's Senior Banquet and Senior Farewell. And she detailed some some pretty extreme behavior displayed by students recently to justify the decision.
According to the letter, obtained by the Baltimore Sun, Trusty said that after weeks of seniors pulling relatively harmless pranks, the pranks escalated to actions that have harmed the health of the staff members and endangered students and staff and personal property.
The pranks outlined in the letter included, "poisoning our drinking water with medication and substances that are unknown to us," and "coating steps, hallways and doorknobs with slippery and unknown substances." Students reported that bleach and laxatives were placed in water coolers, and baby oil smeared on staircases. Trusty also cited harassment of certain individuals to the point of violating federal law.
Updated: Students informed The Sun that also among the prank damage was vandalism of staff offices, including the destruction of several computers. The prank damage is estimated to cost in tens of thousands of dollars. The district said it was still compiling numbers.
Western Student Gaetana Vitale and her father Sal Vitale, who first brought this story to light, said they believed the students involved should be penalized rather than the entire senior class. Updated: Students have apparently been paying dues--up to $500--for senior events since their freshman year.
Updated: “It was wrong, it was stupid, and it was possibly dangerous,” Sal Vitale said of the pranks. "But, they didn’t take action according with the procedures; they did a blanket action against a group of students who would not be coming back. You don’t take it out on everybody.”
The district said Monday, that Trusty had the responsibility to, "hold up the sense of decorum and respect all the way through, and continuously shape and forme the culture of the school.
City schools spokesman, Michael Sarbanes said, that Western had, "a long and proud tradition of school culture that they’re upholding," with the punishments.
Updated: For those who are wondering: On Friday, there was a fight between two students at Polytechnic Institute. Students reported on Twitter that there was a "riot" which the district said was a "large gathering of students" who egged on the fight. The school's principal injured his thumb while breaking up the fight, school officials said. Two other teachers who were reported injured were separate incidents they said.
Add to that, Trusty said, students are generally misbehaving (wandering the halls, refusing to attend class, riding scooters in the halls, and playing ball in the cafeteria) in unacceptable ways.
Trusty cautioned that graduation and prom were also optional events held by the school.
Some parents believe that the entire senior class should not be punished for the actions of a few, particularly because seniors pay dues for four years that go toward planning the senior events.
The school system said today that it was up to the school to maintain order the way its leaders see fit, and the school needed to set a precedent for what is acceptable behavior for its seniors as they near the end of their high-school careers.It wasn't that long ago that I graduated high school, and I don't remember "senioritis" this bad.