GLADSTONE, Oregon — Gladstone Principal Kevin Taylor said Sunday that the students who participated in a senior prank last week will walk in their graduation ceremony on Wednesday.
More than three dozen students entered the high school early Friday morning and moved hundreds of desks out of classrooms and into the hallway as a senior prank. They also replaced dry erase markers with hot dogs.
Taylor said the kids illegally entered the school and manipulated a trusting custodian in order to accomplish the prank. He said he was planning to charge each student more than $47 for the mess, and said he might not even let them walk at graduation.
On Sunday, however, in an email sent to parents, Taylor said he spent the past two days meeting with the superintendent, staff members and a group of student leaders. He said that students will be allowed to walk at graduation on Wednesday.
In the email, Taylor also outlined some other solutions from the weekend discussions:
- "Students realized the impact on one particular staff member and will make amends."
- "There will be discussion with staff and students to re-establish positive relationships."
- "Students will help set up for the graduation ceremony on Wednesday morning [at] 6 a.m."
“I thought it was a great prank,” said Lorrie Dye, grandmother to one of the seniors involved, on Friday. “It didn’t hurt anybody.”
Taylor said he and staff had to prepare for the school day on Friday, but instead they spent a good chunk of time cleaning up.
"The 'prank'was disrespectful to the staff who have put in 4 years of time and effort to give your student the best possible education and extracurricular opportunities available," Taylor wrote in an email to parents on Friday.
Taylor said Friday he was planning to charge each of the 44 students involved more than $47 for the mess to make up for the financial cost of cleaning up after the prank. He said he might not even let them walk at graduation.
"I think it's nuts," said parent Corey Sticka on Friday.
Sticka and his wife were so outraged by the principal’s response they went to the school to get answers.
"I mean they moved some desks around and put a hot dog or two on an eraser board… give me a break," Sticka said.
“I feel like we’ve kind of lost our sense of humor,” Dye said.
Dye said Friday that she hoped cooler heads would prevail over the weekend.
The principal said Friday he would spend the weekend determining how to handle the situation, and that he planned to consult the district office.
“If any of these kids can’t walk for graduation due to this or have to pay $50, I think that’s terrible,” Dye said.
KGW reached out to both the school and district for comment, but have not heard back.
Here's the full email Principal Taylor sent on Friday following the prank:
Dear Parent or Guardian,
This morning your student participated in what was supposed to be a Senior Prank. It was well planned but not well thought out considering the consequences of the events and the impact on staff and students, staff time, and staff attitude and feelings towards those who participated. We have a responsibility to those students in the building to have a workable learning environment. The underclass students have looked up to senior leadership and this is a breach in trust.
Students were warned during at least two different senior meetings that if they participated in a senior prank consequences could be up to and including students not walking graduation night. It was also stated that vandalism may be addressed by the police.
This event started around 5:00 this morning. Students brought a ladder, went across the roof, came into the courtyard, and then let other students into the building. This is referred to as breaking and entering. As soon as students entered the building, besides breaking and entering it is also considered trespass.
We have a custodian on staff who is trusting and also will do anything for students. They manipulated and abused his big heart and warm nature and took advantage of him to have him open rooms for them. He thought they were continuing some part of senior events and graduation and a surprise for teachers. Some students told him the furniture they were moving out would be put back. Again, taking advantage of this fine staff member.
Students moved classroom furniture from classes in three different hallways and blocked the halls. There were hundreds of desks moved from classrooms into the halls. Also, dry erase markers for teacher white boards were substituted with hot dogs.
This year GHS upgraded the cameras and all of the students were easily identified on video.
When Mr. Yates, Mr. Zerzan, and myself entered the building we then had to set about the task and time to move all the furniture back into rooms. That started at 6:15. As other staff arrived they pitched in and helped too. All staff in those three hallways then had to reset their rooms so we could have a teaching day for the other students. All staff involved did not have the opportunity to prepare for the day, grade papers, or set up learning activities to those students still here. This is the busiest time of the school year and we were attempting to have a great send off for this senior class. The senior assembly on Monday was supposed to be a celebration and recognition of academics, spirit, and character. This puts some awards into question. On Wednesday we have graduation.
Factoring in staff hours and costs to move furniture and reset the building, the total is $2092.32.
There were 44 students identified which ends up $47.55 each student. That is just the financial cost. I believe the emotional damage may be greater. The “prank” was disrespectful to the staff who have put in 4 years of time and effort to give your student the best possible education and extracurricular opportunities available.
The final determination of consequences beside cost will be considered over the weekend and I am in consultation with the district office.
Further information about consequences will be communicated on Monday.
Kevin Taylor, Principal
Here's the full email Principal Taylor sent on Sunday:
Dear Parents and Guardians,
Over the past two days I have met with the superintendent, staff members, and a group of student leaders. I appreciate both staff and student leaders working through this solution over the weekend. From our positive discussions the following will happen this next week.
• Students will be walking at Graduation.
• Students will have the senior recognition and awards assembly tomorrow morning.
• Students realized the impact on one particular staff member and will make amends.
• There will be discussion with staff and students to re-establish positive relationships
• Students will help set up for the graduation ceremony on Wednesday morning, 6:00am.
• Graduation Practice at 8:00 am tomorrow morning, and 2:00 pm Wednesday.
• Graduation Wednesday night.
Kevin Taylor, Principal
Gladstone High School