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? While 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?