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Cook column: Long arm of law nabs cricketeers

You’ve heard it before. Someone gets a speeding ticket and complains that police should be out chasing “real” criminals instead of them.
Not me.
A trooper clocked me going 66 in a 55 mph zone a few years ago, and all I could say as he handed me the ticket was “thank you.” He was doing his job.
An orderly society is dependent on a system of laws.
But checking surveillance tapes from Hill’s Minnow Farm to see who bought crickets for a high school prank is a poor use of law enforcement officers’ time, if you ask me.
What about the real criminals?
Store surveillance cameras are supposed to aid in the apprehension of armed robbers and shoplifters ó not people buying crickets.
I’m not condoning school pranks. Schools need rules, just as society needs laws. But the pursuit of the North Rowan Eight and whoever helped with their senior prank last weekend has people shaking their heads.
– – –
For the record, one of the eight students charged in the Cricket Caper, Caitlin Crawford, is serving an internship at the Post. She never breathed a word of this prank to any of us beforehand. And, on the advice of her parents and attorney, she’s not sharing details with us now.
She was so chastened by the criminal charges resulting from the prank that she was afraid we would not want to associate with her any more.
Far from it. We gave her a light round of applause to prop up her spirits when she came in briefly. Someday you’ll laugh about this, I told her. But she’s more worried about the near future and college scholarships.
When brainy teens set their minds on pulling a prank, they can overdo it. That’s the overachiever in them.
These seniors didn’t just paint the rock in front of the school. According to police, they let loose a horde of crickets indoors, using a school key that reportedly has been passed down from class to class. They glued doors shut, unbolted an iron sculpture and put it in the principal’s parking spot. And they wore T-shirts bearing the words, “Hush Hush,” in anticipation of the occasion.
This was no half-measure.
And the consequences so far have been no half-measure, either. The teens face charges of breaking and entering, and injury to real property.
A bonanza for Salisbury’s legal community ó eight new, highly credible clients.
The stepfather of one of the students has also been charged, accused of aiding and abetting injury to property. He was spotted on the surveillance video with the girl buying crickets ó a legal activity, in most parts.
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This escapade reminds me of the prank a group of seniors at Boyden High School pulled 52 years ago. Fed up with the way teachers and administrators had coached everyone on how to act when an accreditation team was to visit, the students went into action on the eve of the evaluation.
Under cover of night, the seniors mutilated a flowering cherry tree on the school’s side lawn and painted a message on nearby steps:
“This is a big fake, evaluators. Go home.”
They also smeared “teach” in red paint on three classroom chalkboards and painted the glass in the school’s front door.
Who would do such a thing?
Only the student government president (Bobby Wakefield), the president of the senior class (Bobby Hunt), a senior with a Naval Academy appointment (Reid Monroe) and a few of their classmates (Johnny Isenhour, Tommy Gardner and George Miggins).
This burst of anarchy shocked students, faculty and Principal J.H. Nettles. The perpetrators confessed and were suspended. There was talk of not letting them graduate.
“The Boyden Six,” as they became known, were big news in the Salisbury Post, just as the Cricket Caper is now. They, too, were charged.
When the boys faced Judge Archie Rufty on charges of damage to property, they told him the act “was a crazy idea on the spur of the moment,” which they regretted, the Post reported. Rufty granted their prayer for judgment continued, hinging on each boy paying a $40 fine and sticking to a 9 p.m. curfew for four months ó lifted only for the junior-senior dance and commencement.
Classmates of the Boyden Six, led by Jim and Pug Dunn, righted one wrong by planting another cherry tree on the school campus during their 50th class reunion. The Boyden Six were the Class of 1957’s claim to fame ó or infamy.
“It was a stupid teenage protest,” Boyden Six member John Isenhour said in 2007, as he approached the 50th reunion and reflected on the prank.
When the North Rowan Eight get together years from now, they’ll say something similar, having gained perspective on both their mischief and the trouble that resulted. They’ll think of it often ó every time they hear a cricket
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Elizabeth Cook is editor of the Salisbury Post.

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