COMMENTARY | Senior pranks might be a rite of passage, but the outcome for students and faculty can be anything but funny. A group of seniors at Kenowa Hills High School in Grand Rapids, Mich., figured they'd take the "prank" out of prank day, going for more of an event, which got at least 60 students suspended for the last day of school.
The event? They rode their bikes three miles from a sports center to school.
The kids even obtained a police escort, MLive reported. But the principal determined the ride interrupted commuters, posed a risk and disrupted the school day, therefore meriting the suspensions.There's no question school administrators want to control their environment. In Indiana, six students were suspended and a janitor was fired after the kids papered windows of the school with nonharmful, nonpermanent Post-It Notes. Unsettlingly, a protest of the janitor's firing garnered 57 more suspensions.
A St. Louis senior, Andrew Altomare, was suspended for a prank involving the minimally-sticky notes. His classmates took to Facebook to protest.
Even hair is raising the hackles of school administrators. Patrick Gonzalez faced suspension for his hair cut, which featured a remarkably artistic likeness of basketball player Matt Bonner. The middle-schooler opted for shaving his hair over the draconian punishment.
Schools have a right to set parameters and enforce them, but there is a major problem when they bleed too far out of the school's jurisdiction or lean too far to the ridiculous. In this day of the constant issue of obesity, that these kids chose to express themselves with physical activity is laudable. They obtained support from the city, and it doesn't seem the ride broke any laws.
But it disrupted school?
To my untrained, noneducator eye, it looks like the principal, Katie Pennington, was determined to find trouble on a day typically marked by a prank and grossly overreacted. Perhaps in the cool light of public scrutiny, Pennington will reconsider her decision.
Here's the thing, quick-to-suspend educators: Post-Its won't hurt the school, though they might give a burst of laughter or a boost of morale. Hair will not cause havoc and a loss of control. And a bike ride, done in joy, away from the school and with the idea of veering away from typical pranks, is not an offense for which seniors should be punished.
These kids in essence were punished for using good judgment. Is that really the last lesson to teach graduating kids about to meet the world?
Nope, I don't think so either.