Senior pranks change with the times

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Zoe Brown, Staff Writer

With Watergate and the Vietnam War, many in the 1970s held an “us against them” mentality – police versus people, government versus people, people versus people.

According to Staples historian Dan Woog ’71 this mentality held true for students versus the administration as well in the late 1970s, as evidenced by the start of the senior pranks tradition.

Woog said when he attended Staples High School, he didn’t recall any senior pranks, but he believes they started later in the ’70s when “things were pretty wild.”

Through the years, the pranks seniors executed throughout their final week of school, and more popularly, their last day, have evolved. In the late ’90s, for example, student outreach counselor Chris Lemone recalls some kids deciding to test the administration by releasing rodents into the cafeteria. The rodents shocked the kids, and the kids, with their screaming and fussing, shocked and actually ended up killing the rodents.

According to Lemone, sometime in his teaching career, students took apart a car and put it together again inside of the cafeteria. Also a long time ago, students placed tires on the flagpole and crickets in the gymnasium.

However, Lemone couldn’t even remember a prank from last year. He credits this change in the pranking styles to the change in the attitude and intensity of students now.

“The way that I’ve seen kids change over the years in general is everyone is so into academics and going to college, not that they weren’t before,” Lemone said. “But there’s a hyper focus now that didn’t exist when I first started here [in 1997], and I think that carries over into pranks and behavior in general.”

That’s because last year, the pranks did begin to fade, according to Jason Chaskin ’14.

He said mostly their “pranks” consisted of running around the school.

“We had a lot of ideas but wouldn’t do anything,” Chaskin said. “Someone would post in the Facebook group, a lot of people would like it, but in the end we were too lazy to make them happen.”

Assistant principal Patrick Micinilio, however, links the decrease in the extremity of senior pranks to an increase of something else. Throughout his years here as an English teacher and an administrator, he’s seen the introduction and popularity of internships as making students more aware of what they’d lose if they got in trouble over a prank.

He explained that since students could lose their opportunity to go to prom, their ability to walk at graduation and now on top of that, their long-awaited internships, the risk became even greater.

However, in 2009, Micinilio himself was pranked. His students wrapped his entire office in aluminum foil.

“It was a nice prank.  It was flattering actually,” he said, smiling. “I felt the love of the class during that prank.”

Also, Micinilio explained that in recent years the seniors placed a huge water slide down the hill by the soccer field, and kids slid down it throughout the day. Micinilio also took part in this fun prank.

“I raged,” Micinilio said, smiling. “It was awesome.  So much fun.”

While the administration understands seniors want to have fun and leave a mark on their last day of school, the administration and other leaders of the senior class have developed a new approach to tackle the excitement and energy on the seniors’ last day this year. There will be a band of students and a dunk tank and hot dogs and hamburgers, and then seniors will be permitted to leave early.

“I would love to start a new tradition,” Dodig said.

These festivities were thought up by the administration in hopes of honoring the seniors in a palatable and safe way. Because of this, Dodig said he will not be approving any pranks this year, even harmless ones.

“Everybody wants to have fun,” Micinilio said. “But nobody wants that black mark on their record.”