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Any high school teachers/principals out there?

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I have a cast of high school seniors in my WIP and I'd love to know how they might be reprimanded for their actions at a public school.

This is what they do:

- A large group commits the senior prank of drawing chalk graffiti on the gym wall and TPing the trees.

- An individual writes a hateful slur in herbicide on the school lawn.

- An individual publishes a story in a school publication that wasn't approved by the faculty adviser/classmates.

This all happens a few weeks before graduation.

Thanks in advance!
#1 - June 28, 2012, 07:32 PM
Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins

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I am not a principal or teacher; however, I have seen similar incidents in the news. For the first two, they may not be allowed
to walk in graduation ceremonies. There might also be criminal charges. There were a lot of stories about senior pranks in the news
in the last several weeks, and these were dealt with severely.
#2 - June 28, 2012, 11:00 PM
Making metaphors out of molehills for over thirty years.

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When I taught high school, the seniors who pulled off a prank (vaseline on all the doorknobs) were suspended for the last week of school and not allowed to participate in the senior week activities.  They were allowed to receive their diplomas on the stage, but not walk with the seniors.  The rationale for this was that the administration felt that keeping them off the stage was more of a punishment for the families than for the students.  This was Punahou School in Honolulu many years ago.  Recently, as Lill has said, there've been stories in the papers about various "pranks" that have earned the students various punishments; some schools are also forbidding kids attendance at any senior week activities or parties, but allowing them to receive the diplomas.
#3 - July 01, 2012, 09:31 AM
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Wow -those seem like really serious reprimands. We have a "senior prank day" where they do stuff like tp-ing and chalk writing and vasoline, etc... and then the juniors have to clean it up. No repercussions. But it's a private school.
The herbicide thing sounds like an awesome story idea!
#4 - July 01, 2012, 01:33 PM


I used to have a neighbor I wanted to use the herbicide trick on. No guts, though.
#5 - July 01, 2012, 01:47 PM

I teach at a small, rural high school - about 500 students. Of these three scenarios, I only think the herbicide might cause a real issue (like suspension - maybe getting to graduate but not being allowed to walk?). The rest would probably just be looked at as "Oh those seniors" though they might make the entire class clean up the tp and clean the walls (since our graduation is held in the gym)

We don't have any publication that comes out without faculty final approval (or very frequently), so that would be really difficult to pull off - plus I doubt the person would give a by-line if that was the case.
#6 - July 01, 2012, 02:04 PM
NO PLACE TO FALL (Harper Teen, 2014)

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Of all of these, the herbicide one struck me as the truly criminal act -- vandalism, damaging of property. So, school officials might very well involve the police, perhaps depending on the school's experience/history with that sort of "prank." (Has it been an issue before?) Also, depending on what the "hateful slur" actually is, the criminal charges could also include a hate crime of some sort. But, again, that would depend on laws local to your story's setting.

Chalk art washes off. TP cleans up. An unapproved story gets a written apology/retraction in the next issue. To me, these all seem more in-house issues and corresponding punishments (what the others have said about senior week and graduation ceremonies).
#7 - July 01, 2012, 06:17 PM


Hey Sarah,
I'm thinking that the punishment for TP and chalk might depend on how they got in - during school hours (or when the school is unlocked is one thing)...and breaking and entering is another. If they broke in at night, the alarms would sound and the police would be involved.

Something hateful on the lawn would depend on exactly how hateful.

Principals LOVE to carry around the "you won't walk at graduation" stick! And, in my experience, they're not afraid to use it!

The good news is that there are many possible you get to decides what works in your story. Lots of things are plausible!

Good luck!
#8 - July 01, 2012, 06:46 PM


Another thing. In small towns/suburbs, who the kids are could make a huge difference. I live out in the sticks and see that all the time. (Wife teaches high school.) It's just a fact that if your family name is X, Y, or Z, you stand a greater chance of being granted certain privileges and forgiveness, and if it's not, you don't.
#9 - July 01, 2012, 09:33 PM
« Last Edit: July 02, 2012, 08:48 AM by Jeff Carney »

What Jeff said!
#10 - July 02, 2012, 05:09 AM
NO PLACE TO FALL (Harper Teen, 2014)

Thanks everyone! So helpful! (And feel free to add more ideas... I haven't written that part of my story yet.)
#11 - July 02, 2012, 07:47 AM
Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins


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