HAY-nous vandalism

Exploring the line between a harmless prank and vandalism


Even after the mess was cleaned up, May 4, remnants of the hay remained.

The event:

Custodians discovered vandalized in the Commons that they considered to be a senior prank, May 4. Students glued hay to the tile and two of the bulletin boards around the columns. The Commons was shut down before school through first and second hours to all traffic, forcing 2,000 students to congregate in the halls. While the administration has identified the offenders, they are not at liberty to disclose the offenders names or the particular consequences for their actions. The offenders have been confirmed to be seniors.

Expenses (property and time):

The event cost 30 man-working hours (the number of workers multiplied by how many hours they worked together) for the custodial staff to clean up and that’s not counting all the administrators and people that were also helping, according to Mrs. Deborah Asher, head principal.

Beyond how long it took for the staff to clean up, it inconvenienced students.

“I consider what the seniors did to be vandalism,” Tom Ferrara (11) said. “It was really juvenile. They shouldn’t have disrespected school property like that. It made it annoying for everyone that we had to stand out in the hallways this morning instead of in the Commons.”

Being inconvenienced left students wondering what was the point behind what the few seniors did.

“I think it annoyed people because it interfered with just getting to classes,” Arden Short (11) said. “Also, it’s destruction of school property with the glue and stuff so that’s just disrespectful.”

The glue caused permanent damage; two of the column bulletin boards have to be replaced as well as all the yellow tile.

“The entire yellow brick road [yellow tile in commons] is going to have to be replaced to restore it back to how it looked before the event. A large section is ruined and there are no matching tiles, so to make it look like it did we’re going to have to replace it all,” Mrs. Asher said. “That’s the goal whenever there is any damage done you don’t just go and make it look okay. It should go back to exactly the way it was.”

The running total of the damages done from the vandalism so far is $3,000, according to Mrs. Asher, but that’s how much it was going to cost before figuring in what the cost of replacing the yellow brick road will be.

Anytime there’s a vandalism and damage is done, the perpetrators are expected to pay for the damages, according to the Rockwood Disciplinary policies.

“I would hope it’s under $10,000 for the sake of the families because they’re going to have to pay for it,” Mrs. Asher said. “So I hope it’s not too much more, but I’m sure it’s going to be easily double the $3,000. You have to think about one contractor coming in and taking up the yellow tile. Then another has to come in and lay it. Then it has to be finished. That’s expensive.”


The seniors may have intended a harmless prank, but district policy defines their actions as vandalism: the willful damage or an intent to cause willful damage to real or personal property belonging to the school, staff, or students according to the Rockwood Disciplinary policies.

The discipline following vandalizing school property for students is either in school suspension, 1-180 days out-of-school suspension, or expulsion with possible notification to the police and possible documentation in student’s discipline record.

Stakes are high so close to the end of the school year and graduation. Senior offenders would get suspended with the suspension terminating on the last day of their high school careers unlike a suspension for an underclassman, which could carry over to the next school year.

However, with just days to the school year, suspension is not an option. These offenders will not be walking at graduation, Mrs. Asher said.

So what started in good fun, ended in misery.

“There’s a line that they crossed by damaging the school,” Brady Cleary (12) said. “It’s one thing if you’re just doing a harmless prank, but when people have to spend money to clean up your mess and people have to work hard, I feel like that’s crossing the line.”

If the district notifies the police an offense that is committed by students of the age of 17 or older, they can be charged as adults. When they’re 16 and considered juveniles, the matter is decided by family court, according to Officer Mike Smith, school resource officer.

Additionally, any property damage that is done above $750 dollars can be charged as first degree property damage as a class D Felony. If a person trespasses knowingly and upon an unlawfully entrance and remains knowingly they can be charged with Trespass in the first degree as a class B misdemeanor according to Missouri Statutes.

A Class D Felony can have up to seven years in jail and a class B misdemeanor can have up to 6 months in jail according to Missouri Statutes or either can be subject to fines as well according to Officer Smith.

Future considerations

If seniors have the idea to prank, they need to know the difference between vandalism and a prank.

“A senior prank to me is a joke that doesn’t cause damage and isn’t disruptive or harmful to property or others,” Mrs. Asher said. “It doesn’t disrupt any of the classes. Vandalism is a crime. What happened wasn’t a prank it was vandalism, and there is a big difference.”

The administration does not encourage or appreciate pranks. But in order to clarify, Mrs. Asher referenced a prank was when students wound up old alarm clocks and put them in their lockers. They set them to go off at a certain time in the afternoon. Staff members then had to open the lockers in order to stop the ringing. Mrs. Asher emphasized how this prank didn’t disrupt learning and didn’t cause damage.

Additionally, if students think to pull a prank at school, they will be saved heartache if they stop and think about the effect the prank will have on others. Destruction of property is not funny.

“If you do something like a senior prank it should be funny, that’s why people do them; but that’s not funny,” Arden Short (11) said. “Putting hay on the ground with glue…you just want to look at the person like, ‘did you really just do that?’ because it’s not funny. It wasn’t interesting in any way. It wasn’t creative. I thought it was stupid.”

Mrs. Annie Schoessel, history teacher, knows that senior pranks are a tradition and won’t stop anytime soon. However, destructive actions are not necessary.

“I try to reenforce to kids if you’re going to do something like that, be creative not destructive,” Mrs. Schoessel said. “It’s annoying and frustrating that people would destroy school property like that. They should have pride in their school and not think that it’s theirs to do whatever they want with it.”