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Lehigh County School Officials Overreact to School Prank

When I was in high school, a few friends and I played a senior prank by sticking some For Sale signs in the front yard, and spray painting "EAT ME" on a white sheet, then hanging it from the roof. The coup de grace was hanging a dead possum over it. Nothing too dramatic, but still enough to get us in trouble.

Still, it was nothing as harsh or terroristic as the young destructive punks at Southern Lehigh High School in Allentown, Pennsylvania. School officials suspended 17 students for five days because they scaled the school walls and blew up three biology labs.

No, just kidding, they — wait for it — camped out inside an enclosed courtyard.

According to an article in the Allentown Morning Call, school officials not only suspended the 17 students, but three of them may lose their membership in the National Honor Society. They were also banned from participating in their own graduation.

Later, two students were also suspended after they emailed the Morning Call criticizing the administration and its handling of the prank. But after a major protest on the part of the students, the administration caved in like a house of cards in a tornado, and waived the two whistle blowers' suspensions.

School officials around the country are blaming a post-Columbine/post-September 11 mentality for wrecking the lives of students who play a harmless prank.

"No question we live in the context of the times," said Mel Riddile, a director with the National Association of Secondary Schools. "Breaking into schools and letting animals loose was a prank in the '70s and '80s. Today, that could be considered a terrorist act."

"The problem is nowadays you don't know whether something is supposed to be a joke or is real," said Daniel Domenech, executive director of the American Association of School Administrators. "And there have been too many incidents where what appeared to be a prank was not. It's a pity, because we all remember our days as students and the pranks we pulled as a rite of passage."

Actually, there are a few general rules you can follow:

  • Climbing the walls of the school and sleeping inside an enclosed courtyard without causing any damage: prank.

  • Sticking 35,000 forks into the lawn of your high school, spelling "We will never Fork-get you:" prank.

  • Bringing guns or explosives to school: terrorist attack

Leave finding terrorists to the FBI. The general rule is if it's something a bunch of students do near the end of the year, and nothing is broken or blown up, have a good laugh and get over yourself. Quit trying to wreck the lives of a bunch of 17-year-olds who made a stupid choice by trying to spend the night in the school.

For Sale signs would have been the smarter way to go.

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