O'BRIEN: In today's world, nothing is funny about school pranks

Posted: May. 20, 2014 9:57 am Updated: Aug. 12, 2014 11:15 am

John Bartz stood outside Durham Baptist Church on Friday night with his wife and child in tow.

What should have been a night for families to come together turned out to be a bit of a logistical nightmare for some with loved ones in the Highland High School graduating class of 2014.

Bartz had a cousin who was one of the 38 seniors who had been banned from the school's regular ceremony because of his involvement in a prank during the early morning hours of May 12 at the school outside of Ewing, Mo. He also had a nephew who was part of the group of seniors who didn't participate in the prank and participated in the ceremony at the high school on Friday.

Bartz never worried about missing his graduation from Highland in 1998. In his day, he said, there were no pranks.

"Probably only because that TV show wasn't on yet," he said with a laugh.

MTV, which used to play music, now uses all of its air time for reality TV shows. One of those shows, which is no longer in production but is easily found online, is called "High School Stories: Scandals, Pranks and Controversies." The show caught up with seniors who pulled pranks in the waning days of their high school career. The show went into the setup of the prank, a recreation of the event and the fallout.

If MTV ever decides to revive the show, the Highland saga would make for interesting TV.

Recreating two students breaking into the school through a hatch that led to the boys locker room and having the kids let the other students in through the front door would be captivating TV. Then they could show how the students had a grand time rearranging things inside the school and marking the place up.

On the same day Highland's seniors had a split-squad graduation, word came out of Quincy High School that a group of approximately 50 seniors took part in a prank around 9 a.m. Friday. The group went to the cafeteria, played music and hit some beach balls around. They ran the halls and left the building. All of those involved were kicked out of school for a few days and can return to class on Tuesday.

Neither set of students meant any harm by their actions. Feedback online for those who defended the pranks ran along the lines of "There have always been senior pranks" and "We never got in trouble for them back in my day."

Unfortunately, high school today isn't anything like it was back in your day or mine.

There was no such thing as a Trenchcoat Mafia, which is what Columbine (Colo.) High School shooters Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold called themselves 15 years ago when they shot up the school and killed 13 people and wounded 24 others.

Unless you lived in an inner city, you didn't have to worry about passing through metal detectors or having cameras watch your every move while you were in school.

Back then, every door was unlocked. These days, they're all but bolted down like Fort Knox.

That's the sad reality all students from grade school on up have to face today. What may have passed for a prank "back in the day" is serious business these days.

The kid in us may not like it, but school administrators have no other choice but to take a hard-line stance against any shenanigans these days.


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