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Verner column: Too many crickets? It could be worse

The recent cricket escapade at North Rowan High School got me to wondering: What are some other some other senior pranks that have made headlines in recent years?
No surprise that a quick search via the Internet turned up reams of student shenanigans as well as “prank” pages and blogs that offer remedial help for seniors struggling to devise their own mayhem. None of them, however, contains what may be the most important advice: Make sure you have money on hand to retain legal representation, kids. You may need it.
Although school administrators here expressed the appropriate disapproval in the cricket case, they may have been relieved that the students chose chirping insects to set loose in the hallways. Exterminating crickets is a lot easier than trying to round up hundreds of live rodents. That was the situation at a high school in Albany, N.Y., last year, according to a report in the Albany Times-Union. Students released hundreds of rats in the hallways while simultaneously setting off the school’s fire extinguishers. Administrators had to end regular classes a day and a half early. (Buying rats in bulk is more complicated and expensive than obtaining large quantities of crickets. One source, www.rodentpro.com, offers a bag of five large rats for $7.45. That seems pretty reasonable, considering the price of sirloin. However, be forewarned that the rats are shipped frozen, which suggests they might be a bit lethargic when dumped on the hallway linoleum.)
At Severna Park High School in Maryland, students appropriated only one critter for their prank ó but it was a real porker. According to a published account, the students “released a squealing 31-pound piglet named Hamilton into the halls on the sinister date of 6/6/06 … Purloined from a county park for an end-of-year stunt, the 3-month-old pig ó nickname: Hammy ó appeared Tuesday morning in the math wing of the Annapolis area school between the first and second class periods. Administrators cornered the frightened animal near an exit, where he submitted to capture as students recorded the moment on their cellphone cameras.”
A live pig is probably preferable to a dead goat. Students in a Prince George’s County high school in Maryland caused a security clampdown (and perhaps a few calls to John Giotti) when they left a severed animal head in a high school hallway. Imagine the reaction of parents getting this letter from the Surrattsville High principal: “Yesterday during third module lunch on the Ninth Grade Academy hallway, a head of an unidentified carcass was recovered.” (And you thought cafeteria “mystery meat” was disturbing.) Further investigation indicated it was the head of a goat. “The school’s staff removed the grisly find in a matter of minutes,” we are assured, “and then called off the class trip to the Kings Dominion theme park.”
Well, at least they weren’t headed to the petting zoo.
While senior pranks involving animals and insects remain in vogue, hijinks involving vehicles are also perennial favorites. Where back in the day it was a common prank for brawny seniors to pick up a faculty member’s VW bug and tote it into the school gymnasium, seniors at Plainview-Old Bethpage High School in Plainview, N.Y., were more ambitious. They painted a Honda Accord bright neon pink and, apparently using a system of ramps, transported it onto the roof of the school. Or maybe it just ended up there during the parallel-parking session in driver’s ed.
Letting the air out of teachers’ tires is a frequent stunt, but seniors at Jefferson High School in New Jersey took it a step further: They deflated the front tires of 24 school buses parked at a school lot. Administrators were not amused. They had to cancel classes for more than 3,600 students.
At East Aurora High in suburban Chicago, several seniors were banned from attending graduation after they participated in an end-of-the-year prank that involved spray painting school property, stealing a statue of the Tomcat mascot and hanging underwear adorned with printout photos of administrators’ faces in front of the building. (From FaceBook to FaceBriefs?)
At Cape Fear Academy near Wilmington, the senior class went for the hard sell. Prior to their last day of class, they made a 3-foot-by-9-foot vinyl sign with large, red letters proclaiming “Entire School for Sale” and posted it in front of the school, along with several smaller “for sale” signs scattered around the school grounds. It was convincing enough to prompt several calls from area real-estate agents wanting to get a piece of the listing.
Just imagine if they had posted it on eBay.
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Chris Verner is editorial page editor of the Salisbury Post.

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