Absence of Senior Pranks Rattles Students


Will McKnight

Class of 2014 members Jacob Herbst and Nick Adamson play “root beer pong” during their senior prank at an Onaway Road property during first period May 5, 2014. The class of 2016 performed few senior pranks.

The class of 2016 set a record, but they’re not very happy about it: They pulled the fewest senior pranks in at least 20 years.

In years past students have unleashed smoke bombs and stink bombs, rubbed Vaseline on the railings, switched the upstairs and downstairs arrows and put a cow on the third floor, set loose crickets and two stray pigs labeled one and three in the cafeteria.

When Michael Griffith arrived at Shaker 15 years ago, he inherited a tradition of senior pranks that had escalated to cruelty, with seniors — and other students — assaulting classes with water balloons, endangering students and staff in stairwells, abusing animals and detonating fireworks in the building. Rather than shut down pranks in a show of administrative power, Griffith worked with students to establish a process for approving students’ prank ideas. The practice restored some order to the final weeks of school.

Griffith became head of the Ratner School last June, and Interim Principal James Reed III has led the building since. Seniors think few pranks occurred this year because fewer were approved by the administration.

Senior Chris Hullet said a lack of planning along with the harsh approval process contributed to the uneventful spring,“The pranks done were super

A cup filled with root beer and bearing the Yuengling beer label sits on the table near a game of “root beer pong” May 5, 2014.
Will McKnight
A cup filled with root beer and bearing the Yuengling beer label sits on the table near a game of “root beer pong” May 5, 2014.

weak this year.”

A senior who wished to be unnamed said students tried to do pranks but were discouraged by the administration’s threat of severe consequences. “For example, not graduating or going on project.  Administration was trying and succeeding in limiting the pranks,” he said, because they don’t want students to have fun. 

“I love the pranks and I tried to get three approved but every single one was rejected. There was by far the least amount of pranks in my four years here.”  This senior declined to share what three pranks he tried to get approved, “I won’t tell you what pranks I did because they are supposed to be secret, but we tell Bartley our prank ideas and he passes them up the chain.”  

Senior class advisor Matthew Bartley said, “We don’t really have a prank approval process.  Students come to me with their ideas and I pass it on to administration like Mrs. Chengelis or Mr. Reed. This year a student came to me and asked if they could stack all the chairs in the cafeteria to one side.  This harmless prank was approved, but all pranks involving teachers were not. This year there weren’t many pranks. I think students just enjoyed having fun with friends and doing little pranks to themselves.” 

I think that the struggle with senior pranks is that it’s easy to come up with a prank but getting the pranks approved is the hard part.

— Janayia Rodgers


Senior Matt Klein agrees that administration was the reason pranks were sparse this year, “There were less pranks because no one could get permission to do any that would be worth doing. Administration was trying to limit the pranks and this is the least amount of pranks I’ve seen from a class. I do like the pranks, this year the administration just ruined it.”  

Other Shaker graduating classes believe that they will perform more pranks than current seniors. Junior Janayia Rodgers said, “I do believe that my class will come up with some very clever pranks for next year. I think that the struggle with senior pranks is that it’s easy to come up with a prank but getting the pranks approved is the hard part.”

Many say it was also due to testing, and administration trying to limit level of disruption throughout the building. “I believe the administration is trying to limit the interruptions, as this week often is when high stake testing starts,” history teacher Todd Torrence said, 

Assistant Principal Sara Chengelis also agrees that testing has come in the way of senior prank week, “Over the years testing has increased and it has also coincided with senior week.  We need to keep in mind the level of disruption because we don’t want a testing violation.”

Despite the absence of pranks this year, teachers still enjoy the yearly tradition. English teacher Christopher Cotton said, “When the pranks are creative and funny and harmless, I love them. But not when they are destructive or disruptive. These types of pranks should be forbidden. And prankster students should pay for any repairs or clean-up that they made necessary. I don’t think students realize how enormously expensive prank week is for the district: We pay tons of overtime for custodians, security and police.”

Chengelis doesn’t believe you necessarily need pranks to enjoy senior week, “I like the special days like career day and talking with students about project and college. One morning students decorated my office, and things like that have meaning and don’t disrupt school.”

However with the trend of fewer pranks each year, younger students are worried that this will become a trend. Freshman Myyah Husamadeen said, “If pranks continue to become harder and harder to get approved by the time my class is seniors, senior pranks will be a thing of the past.”

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