Pop QuizSecondary Education

Pop Quiz: So you get three pigs, right…

It’s the day of our senior graduation today.  We’ve had our graduation ceremony, there’ve been tearful farewells, and various implausible things have been signed and scribbled all over. This year’s been a little bit different, however. Our graduation ceremony was in the middle of the day and there was a lunch laid on for the students afterwards. As soon as this lunch was over, every single one of the new graduates was politely but firmly asked to leave the building and told not return today.

Any of you who’ve worked in high school education around the time of a graduation will likely be able to guess why this might have been done. It was to prevent something that we’ve been stung by quite badly in the past:  senior pranks.

In previous years, the few hours after the senior graduation has tended to consist of a bunch of lost-looking students (or former students, I suppose) wandering around the school saying protracted goodbyes and looking a bit wide-eyed as they start to realise that yes, they really have left school. It also tended to be the time when the pranks happened. Teachers viewed graduation day with a mixture of amusement, apprehension and outright fear. Today’s fairly abrupt end to proceedings was designed to put a stop to any major pranking.

It totally didn’t work.

Last year, the senior pranks ranged from “hilarious” to “serious property damage”. One teacher found that his desk and every single item in and on it had been individually shrink-wrapped. Another experienced the old classic of having the “N” and “M” keys on their computer swapped around. Unfortunately, a few more ambitious students also decided to pour several tins of emulsion paint into the school swimming pool.

This year there hasn’t been anything that major. The early finish didn’t actually stop the pranks though, it just made sure that they happened earlier in the day. At morning break the entire cafeteria erupted into a water fight (featuring more water balloons than I have ever seen),  one of the cleaners found three raw fish taped to the underside of one of the dining tables, and someone apparently passed out cupcakes laced with laxative. That last one might just have been a rumour.

The best one, as is often the case with these things, involved the Head Teacher. Some enterprising individuals place an advert on Gumtree (which is the UK version of Craigslist) last night, advertising the sale of his very nice shiny expensive car for “any reasonable offer”. They used the school phone number. I think the office staff have probably lost count of the number of calls they’ve had today from excited prospective buyers.

For today’s Pop Quiz, I’d like to know about your experiences with school pranks.

Have you ever been on the receiving end of one? Or did you participate in them?

Do you have an examples of clever or good-natured pranks? How about ones that went too far or were just plain mean?

Do you think that my school’s approach of essentially throwing the students out after graduation was the right one?

This Pop Quiz is a question for you, the Scholars of Doubt. Look for them on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 3pm ET.

Featured Image: Zachary Tirrell

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Alasdair is a high school English teacher in Scotland. He's a passionate skeptic and science fan, which is why he runs a discussion club for young skeptics in his school. He loves space and astronomy more than pretty much anything and is studying for a physics degree in his spare time in order to become qualified to teach science.

He lives with a cat made of distilled hatred and spikes.

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