(WGHP) — What some students dub senior pranks, law enforcement officials are calling vandalism.
Some examples of pranks gone too far: breaking and entering, pools of dead fish on gym mats, buildings egged and at one local high school, cement poured in toilets and urinals.
Burlington Police Department announced that charges have been filed against seven students who were reportedly involved in the cement incident at Walter M Williams High School.
The problem is not an isolated one. Multiple North Carolina school districts have filed charges against students this month because these so-called pranks are anything but harmless.
Williams High School in Burlington is making national news all because students broke into the school and poured cement mix into eight toilets and six urinals.
“That alone was the cost of around $4,000,” said Les Atkins, spokesperson for the school district.
That’s not counting labor.
“We had about 17 maintenance workers here.”
It wasn’t just the cement. Baby powder was all over the gym, inappropriate signs and balloons were all over the school, mulch was in the halls and more.
“We had some of our administrators out cleaning up toilet paper.”
Western Alamance High School was egged, and trash was dumped everywhere.
At Southern Alamance, seniors poured dead fish in the parking lot and on wrestling mats, dumped old appliances on campus and a moped was put on the roof.
“This really goes beyond a prank at this point. This is destruction of school property.”
Five seniors and two underclassmen are now facing misdemeanor property damage and breaking and entering charges for their role in cement mixing at Williams High.
“They will not be able to participate in graduation exercises … for the students who were not seniors, they will be long-term suspended, which means for the first nine weeks of next year, they will not be allowed on our campus.”
A release on Thursday morning from the ABSS Board of Education elaborated that over 80 seniors will not be participating in graduation exercises.
“The Board of Education is aware that more than 80 students from Alamance-Burlington Schools will not be allowed to participate in upcoming graduation ceremonies. These students were identified entering our school buildings as part of senior pranks across the District. Seven of these students were identified and subsequently charged by the Burlington Police Department for damaging eight toilets and six urinals at Walter Williams High School costing the District more than $4,000,” the statement reads.
All six high school principals were instructed to notify parents if their student entered/trespassed school buildings and/or vandalized the exterior or interior of buildings.
- Graduating seniors are suspended from campus for the remainder of the academic year and will not participate in graduation ceremonies.
- Other students who are not graduating seniors will be suspended for the remainder of this school year and will be recommended for additional consequences under the Code of Conduct.
- Students suspected of damage to school property will also be reported to law enforcement.
As the investigations at our high schools continue, we anticipate the number of students who will not participate in graduation to increase.
We feel it is important to bring clarity to this unfortunate situation and to be transparent with the community. Please know we do believe important milestones should be celebrated yet we do expect our students to do so in a respectful manner. The disruption of learning, monetary costs to our District, extra burden on our facilities team and, at several campuses, the disregard for student safety simply cannot be tolerated.
The Board of Education fully supports Dr. Butler and his continued commitment for zero tolerance in our schools.”The ABSS Board of Education
60 of the 80+ students barred from graduation are from Williams High School, according to the district.
Other districts have reacted similarly.
In Union County, two people were arrested and accused of felony damaging computers at Sun Valley High School with more than $20,000 in damage estimated.
In Mecklenburg County, around 50 students broke into Mallard Creek High School and caused $5,000 of damage by tossing furniture and throwing trash. Some have been charged.
Both districts will prohibit those involved from participating in graduation ceremonies.
Guilford County and Winston-County/Forsyth County Schools say they have not experienced any major senior pranks, but school principals may choose speak to their students to discourage the behavior.
For their part, most students are not happy with what happened. One student leader said they should pay restitution.
“It was vandalism. It wasn’t a senior prank at all. I think they were completely out of line, and if they’re getting their scholarships and suspended, I feel like their scholarship money should be …put towards the cement because it’s $4,000 in damages,” she said.