It is a long-standing tradition at AIS to permit graduating students a “Senior Prank Day”. However, it was the various crass and poorly thought out “tricks” played on the rest of AIS’ students and faculty that crossed the line and showcased seniors’ ineptitude at, dare I say life, which they made so clear through their woeful attempt at a “senior prank”. Last week’s prank day was not only immature but wholly inappropriate for the AIS community.  Adding insult to injury, the administration failed to appropriately respond to the day’s events.

On Thursday, April 24th, seniors were allowed to sleep over in the school with faculty present. On Friday, April 25th, students arrived to find a few pranks intended for laughs.  Those coming in the main doors had to traverse their way to the stairs through a maze of water-filled cups.  In perhaps the best prank of the day, those passing by Mr. Patoprsty’s classroom got to see the wedding of Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong.

However, for those who have understandably forgotten the rest of Friday’s events, they consisted of a smorgasbord of hackneyed ideas. Moving the lockers and couches around might have been time-consuming, but wholly uninspired. Blasting Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall” in the lunchroom, most known for its famous line “we don’t need no education,” was another clichéd attempt at declaring seniors’ freedom from AIS. Wow, you played a song with anti-establishment themes in a school? Hopefully no oppressive governments come to lock you up for being too edgy.

As the night wore on, faculty present must have literally fallen asleep on the job as the seniors’ judgment waned. Additional pranks crossed the line from humor into downright vulgarity. Filling condoms with soap and decorating the school with them? Really? Are we still at an age where anything even remotely related to sex is considered humorous?  cocaine picturesWhile that may be easier to overlook at a school of exclusively teens, AIS is a campus that houses students in grades K-12. Students as young as 5 years old walk through the high school halls.   Parents of these younger students are probably unaware of last week’s events, but I’m sure they would be horrified to learn that in addition to the filled condoms, the school was decorated with powder placed specifically to look like cocaine.

What makes this event even more disturbing is the fact that AIS faculty actually stayed over with students. In my 17 years as an international student, I have never seen such unabashedly unnecessary fraternization as letting one’s own students sleep over so they can more effectively trash the school. After interviewing a chaperone (who wishes to remain anonymous) who was present at the event to ensure nothing crossed the line, they stated that their only mandate from the school was that “no [irreparable] damage be done”. This action alone denotes AIS faculty’s approval of such an event, and not only erases any sympathy I had for the school, but makes them look bad by only considering potential physical damage. Did AIS administration not have the interests of the students at heart as well, besides just worrying about material damage? Despite this, the chaperone remarked that the entire group of chaperones agreed to personally step up and talk to seniors if they felt any of the pranks crossed the line into vulgarity. Throughout the night, they felt some of the pranks crossed the line. However, students who were addressed for their actions disagreed, and became confrontational when asked to remove the offending objects. The chaperones attempted to remove all objects they found inappropriate at a later time, however they could not remove everything. Nevertheless, I do appreciate the fact that they did their best to go above the weaker requirements of the school in order to stand up for what they thought was right.

Unfortunately, the wildly inappropriate actions continued, including the targeting of specific students, which bordered on bullying. If I went to another student’s locker, and wrote that they need “b—- therapy”, as an unknown senior did to a freshman, I would without a doubt be reprimanded and punished. If I blatantly joked about a student having sexually transmitted diseases, I would probably face similar reproach. But when a senior does it anonymously, it is written off as a prank, merely “kids being kids”? After the event, a student recounted to me another instance in which a note saying “you’re the biggest b—- in the whole school” was posted on a student’s locker. Frankly, I find that disgusting, and am ashamed to attend a school where such behavior is acceptable. By remaining silent about this, AIS not only doesn’t discourage such behavior, but aligns it with the status quo, sending a message for classes to come that such actions are acceptable.

Despite the spiteful and crass attitude that prevailed on senior prank day, it should be noted that some seniors went out of their way to apologize for the pranks committed by their peers. This should be noted on two fronts. Firstly, they should be recognized for taking responsibility for the class’ actions as a whole, as well as realizing that the pranks overstepped the bounds of what many considered appropriate for senior prank day. The combined efforts of these seniors and chaperones who took action seem to be the only good thing to come out of senior prank day.

In light of these events, I hope the senior class considers the true privilege it is to attend AIS. I’d love to know how the seniors in Africa, who benefitted from the money raised by the Girl Effect Walkathon, celebrate their final year of high school. I would hazard a guess that it’s probably not by trashing their school, but instead reflecting on the fact that they have had the amazing opportunity to take control of their lives. I would challenge AIS’ seniors to consider, were they not born where they were, or if they didn’t have the parents they do, whether they would even have a senior prank day, or a school at all.

The truth is, every student at AIS should be immensely grateful for the fact that either their parents, or their parent’s employer pay over €19,000 for them to attend AIS. We may have days where our motivation is lacking or we do not try our hardest, but using one’s time and energy to ruin the school is idiotic. Any supposed need for release or relief that could be a driving force behind senior prank day seems, to me, ludicrous. If school is so grueling for you, if the IB leave (that many IB schools in the U.S. and others countries do not give their students) is not enough relaxation, then please, take another senior skip day. You’re obviously not contributing here. I can see no real other motivation for senior prank day besides “because we can”, which is nothing but primitive. Should the future of our generation really find entertainment in mindless destruction and middle school-level humor?

The senior prank is supposed to be something the entire school can enjoy, something that serves not only as an inspiration to the rest of the school, but more of a reminder of the joyous times to come, of the idea that someday, underclassmen will enjoy acceptance into university. However, it should under no circumstances be used as a cover for bullying, as mask to hide behind as one carries out personal vendettas against those that can’t defend themselves. If our senior class cannot grasp the basic concepts of responsibility and consequences, are they truly ready to graduate?

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  • Lisanne

    Great article! It takes a lot of courage to write something like this. What the seniors did is absolutely horrifying. I hope that senior prank is not ruined for everyone!

  • Kenna McCafferty

    Great article Andrew! There were definitely parts of senior prank day that went too far. What do you think would be a good senior prank?

  • Dennis Harter

    Andrew, while I agree with many of your points, I think that if you are going to offer commentary on what the administration’s response and guidelines were, then you should, at minimum, speak with administration. This would allow you to get some of your facts checked before putting them in print. In the end, I appreciate your perspective, which I think was shared by many. I am sorry that you did not speak with me for more accuracy, but in the end, you captured the inappropriateness of a senior prank and how contrary it is to what actually is a general love and appreciation that students have for their school. Like you, I hope (and will work to ensure) that future students will show their love for AIS by treating their fellow students, teachers, cleaning staff, and community with respect and appreciation.

  • Sang Wook Ha

    Dear Andrew,

    First,let me say this. I fully agree that the senior prank should not be used as “a cover for bullying, as mask to hide behind as one carries out persona vendettas”.

    That being said, I believe this article entails a view of the senior prank which is erroneous and perhaps misleading.

    This article seems to claim that the senior prank day is a day were the seniors can simply “trash the school” and was use it to compensate for their “lack of
    motivation”, as they find school “grueling”. If this had been the case, I hardly believe that seniors would have volunteered to sleep over at AIS and
    even bother to gather chaperons to enable this. Senior prank day was not a day were seniors had simply gathered and decided to mess up the school according to
    their own whim, but it had been a project which had been looked forward to since the early stages of the school year and a project which was intended to be entertaining for all. Although there were pranks which seemed inappropriate and need to be addressed, but it was never the intention of the seniors offend or harm an academic institution. This is an opinion piece, but I believe that describing the senior prank as a “smorgasbord of hackneyed ideas”, “clichés” and “idiotic”
    based on a few selected pranks is simply biased. To comment on the “powder to resemble cocaine”, it had only been placed in one classroom and had been an inside joke between the teacher and the students, and a joke which in fact the teacher has found entertaining. (From what I heard)

    Regarding IB leave, I believe that it is simply wrong to suggest that it is an unnecessary period of simple relaxation. To claim that IB leaves are unnecessary because
    other schools do not implement it, one needs to compare the average IB scores of the schools which do not have IB leave and do have IB leave. Only then can
    it be suggested that IB leave might be “unnecessary.” Otherwise, mentioning that other schools in “the US and other countries” not having IB leave is void
    of any information. I might just as well have pasta for dinner because my neighbors are having it. Personally, I think that IB leave is a crucial time for students
    to review two years of material. (For the average student it will be at least six subjects to review for) For many students, the IB scores are the determining factor for their entrance to university and is something which cannot be commented on lightly.

    Of course, senior prank is an event where seniors rejoice at the nearing end of our secondary education. However, the senior prank’s intention was never to
    vandalize the school. If there was any harm done, I am confident that the senior class will sincerely express its apologies.

    However, to view it as “obscene” would be judging Jackson Pollock’s painting under Renaissance standards. It simply doesn’t work. When a whole group of seniors have been under pressure for the past 8 months and haven’t been sleeping much due to assignments, things can sometimes get messy.

    I believe that the senior prank is a chance for us to say our goodbyes in our very own ways, and to call the seniors “inept at life” for some shortcomings is
    ruthelessly misleading of our intentions.

  • Sang Wook Ha

    Dear Andrew,

    First,let me say this. I fully agree that the senior prank should not be used as “a cover for bullying, as mask to hide behind as one carries out persona vendettas”.

    That being said, I believe this article entails a view of the senior prank which is erroneous and perhaps misleading.

    This article seems to claim that the senior prank day is a day where the seniors can simply “trash the school” and was use it to compensate for their “lack of
    motivation”, as they find school “grueling”. If this had been the case, I hardly believe that seniors would have volunteered to sleep over at AIS and
    even bother to gather chaperons to enable this. Senior prank day was not a day where seniors had simply gathered and decided to mess up the school according to
    their own whim, but it had been a project which had been looked forward to since the early stages of the school year and a project which was intended to be entertaining for all. Although there were pranks which seemed inappropriate and need to be addressed, but it was never the intention of the seniors offend or harm an academic institution. This is an opinion piece, but I believe that describing the senior prank as a “smorgasbord of hackneyed ideas”, “clichés” and “idiotic”
    based on a few selected pranks is simply biased. To comment on the “powder to resemble cocaine”, it had only been placed in one classroom and had been an inside joke between the teacher and the students, and a joke which in fact the teacher has found entertaining. (From what I heard)

    Regarding IB leave, I believe that it is simply wrong to suggest that it is an unnecessary period of simple relaxation. To claim that IB leaves are unnecessary because
    other schools do not implement it, one needs to compare the average IB scores of the schools which do not have IB leave and do have IB leave. Only then can
    it be suggested that IB leave might be “unnecessary.” Otherwise, mentioning that other schools in “the US and other countries” not having IB leave is void
    of any information. I might just as well have pasta for dinner because my neighbors are having it. Personally, I think that IB leave is a crucial time for students
    to review two years of material. (For the average student it will be at least six subjects to review for) For many students, the IB scores are the determining factor for their entrance to university and is something which cannot be commented on lightly.

    Of course, senior prank is an event where seniors rejoice at the nearing end of our secondary education. However, the senior prank’s intention was never to
    vandalize the school. If there was any harm done, I am confident that the senior class will sincerely express its apologies.

    However, to view it as “obscene” would be judging Jackson Pollock’s painting under Renaissance standards. It simply doesn’t work. When a whole group of seniors have been under pressure for the past 8 months and haven’t been sleeping much due to assignments, things can sometimes get messy.

    I believe that the senior prank is a chance for us to say our goodbyes in our very own ways, and to call the seniors “inept at life” for some shortcomings is
    ruthelessly misleading of our intentions.

  • Deidree

    After writing this article, I’d personally be curious to see what the class of 2015 intends to do for a senior prank. You’ve certainly raised the expectations of both the school staff and the younger students here.

  • Paul Orange

    For heaven’s sake. Those pranks were not, in my humble opinion, that bad. When I was a senior at AIS (Class of 1979) we did things far more destructive, sometimes obscene and definitely childish and stupid. But isn’t that kind of behavior the whole point behind the event? The fact that faculty were present does nothing to diminish my respect for the fine teachers at AIS. I think it shows us that despite everything, the faculty were willing to be permissible and turn a blind eye, and let young adults be stupid and do stupid things. Why? Because the next day, when the seniors step back and look at their handy work, I’m sure they saw how dumb they looked in the eyes of everyone else. I know that we did. That was 35 years ago. Teenager behavior hasn’t changed much since then. Today’s teens just have better technology.

    I do not agree that “The senior prank is supposed to be something the entire school can
    enjoy…bla bla bla.” That’s what graduation night is for. That’s what the school drama club is for. We can postulate and theorize ad nauseum about what seniors in Africa did on their senior day. We could ponder about what less fortunate seniors in other countries would do. We can wring our hands and bemoan the fact that AIS seniors are too privileged and are not grateful for all that they have in a pricey school. When we were seniors, we did not punish ourselves that way. Did we get a stern lecture from school administration? Did we get dirty looks from other students at some of the things that went overboard? Did we have to clean up some of the mess we made? Did we have to atone for some of our (admittedly) atrocious pranks? The answer to each of those questions is “Yes, without question.” The “take away” from our senior night was that our actions have consequences; we suddenly understood that no matter how high in the Corps Diplomatic or Corps Consulat our parents may be, we still have to take responsibility for our mistakes, apologize to those we offended. But above all, we came to the horrific realization that we, at the age of 17 or 18 or 19, were no longer children and that with privilege comes responsibility. And that, for crying out loud, is what senior prank night is about. My opinion, worth what you paid for it!