Seniors commence long held pranking tradition


Anna Xu

In 1582, when all of Europe changed its calendars from Julian to Gregorian, those who celebrated New Year’s on the wrong date were deemed fools, thereby commencing the April Fools holiday.
Since then, the tradition of pranking has caught fire across the nation and around the world in the forms of Youtube videos, daily antics and senior pranks.
Senior pranks symbolize the end of the school year’s cramming, testing and stressing that typically occurs during Senior Week, which starts Monday. Students, such as sophomore Nora Hollister, look forward to the surprises the week entails.
“I think senior pranks are fun,” Hollister said. “I’m looking forward to this year’s senior pranks to see their creativity and originality.”
Former principal Kathy Ritter, who worked at RBHS from 1992-2010, believes the tradition of senior pranks is so popular because of the competitiveness among the classes.
“I think seniors want to leave their mark in some way,” Ritter said. “Some have had older brothers or sisters or friends, so there is a tradition of storytelling.”
Senior Liam Stanley enjoyed experiencing senior pranks from classes before him and hopes to uphold the tradition and the hype of senior pranks.
“It’s just a funny thing for the seniors to leave for the next class,” Stanley said. “[They] keep the tradition alive.”
The tradition of senior pranks extends to near the beginning of the school’s founding and are memorable, both positively and negatively, to the students, teachers and faculty members. Ritter said that the best pranks throughout the years are ones the whole school gets to experience, has lasting comedic value and maybe includes a RBHS related element to it.
Ritter recalled her favorite pranks. In the mid 1990s, a group of seniors successfully stole the Bruin Bear costume and took pictures with the Bruin Bear at various locations around Columbia, including RBHS’ longtime rival, Hickman High School.
“They [posed] in front of Hickman High School, and the Bruin Bear had his arm around two girls in prom dresses,” Ritter said.
Because they were civilized kidnappers, the seniors posted ransom notes on the glass doors coming into the building. Ritter said they read: “I’m being held captive, [and] I’m being well treated. I don’t know the terms of my release, but they will become evident as time goes on.”
As the week progressed, the ransom notes became more specific concerning the requirements for release.
“It was just silly things like the secretaries had to cluck like a chicken over the intercom. The principal had to dress up like a pumpkin,” Ritter said. “They were off the wall, goofy things, and we kind of went along with it.”
In the end, the Bruin Bear costume was returned to the principal on graduation day.
Another clever senior prank was the situation of the missing waste baskets. In all the classrooms, seniors removed the trash bins and replaced the void with a single clue: the waste baskets were somewhere in the building.
“So we searched through every closet, the Performing Arts Center, the gym and locker rooms,” Ritter said. “We looked everywhere.”
The hunt went on for another week to no avail, Ritter said. Turns out, the waste baskets weren’t in any storage unit or in any secret classroom, actually, the baskets weren’t even on the ground. The bins were above the movable ceilings.
“The teachers thought it was hysterical,” Ritter said. “It was disruptive but really funny.”
Opposite to witty pranks, other pranks fell short because of disgust, danger and pure stupidity. Gwen Struchtemeyer, gifted education teacher at RBHS, said the consequences of irresponsible senior pranks may lead to serious repercussions.
In one occurrence, a senior chopped down one of the Bradford Pear Trees near the North entrance. The administration checked the security cameras, found the guilty senior and prosecuted.
Another example of a failed senior prank is the case of the golf balls. Seniors dispersed hundreds of golf balls into the halls of the school. A serious problem arose because RBHS has students who don’t walk well, visually impaired students, and students who have a variety of circumstances that the golf balls had to be immediately collected due to the serious safety hazards.
“I mean someone could’ve fallen and hurt themselves; they were all over the place,” Struchtemeyer said. “There was also a year students did that with crickets, and the whole school smelled like guts.”
Releasing animals into the building is a popular theme in senior pranks. Last school year seniors brought their dogs to school and delighted the student body. While this particular prank was fun, other animal pranks were not. Struchtemeyer remembers the year when seniors set loose a bunch of little birds in the media center. The birds, bought from Petco, became confused and frightened. She and her colleagues closed the media center down for four hours to save and gather the little birds.
“None died, but they were so freaked out that by the end of that four hours, I was actually able to corner one and just grab it with my bare hands because it’s heart was [beating uncontrollably],” Struchtemeyer said. “It was abusive to the birds. It was an awful thing to do. Don’t harm any animals.”
Sadly, while pranks can be fun for the students, many times it’s the custodians who have to deal with the consequences. Custodians work tirelessly to pick up after students the entire school year, and messy senior pranks can become an unnecessary hassle and inconvenience.
“The worst prank would have been last year,” Dallas Thomas, a custodian, said. “Milk all over our north commons, glitter bombs in our bathrooms, cereal in the sinks.”
Pranks like spilling drinks on floors and clogging drains lack creativity and burden custodians.
“It’s not really so much of a prank. I mean, you’re out a bathroom, but otherwise it’s just a mess,” Thomas said. “It would be more funny if they had to come back and clean it up and not us.”  
Those who have dealt with pranks, including Ritter and Struchtemeyer, strongly advise they don’t require extra clean up. Additionally, they recommend students to help clean up after the prank.
“Any senior doing a senior prank [should] clear it with one of the assistant principals because if they get clearance, they aren’t going to get in trouble,” Struchtemeyer said. “And it’s not like the principal is going to tell anybody.”
All in all, teachers and staff believe students understand the rules and represent the school well, despite some years of bad choices.
“I think students really do respect Rock Bridge and the atmosphere of freedom [in the school],” Ritter said. “Very seldom do students do something destructive or vandalism-like.”
The spirit of pranking continues in the current senior class as they brew prank ideas to pull in the next coming weeks.
“We have some pretty big pranks in the works,” Stanley said. “We sort of went off of what pranks were funny last year, the year before and the year we were freshmen and think [about] which one’s were funny and which one’s were sort of lame. We’re going for chaos.”
What is your favorite senior prank?