One senior won’t be joining his classmates to receive his diploma at the school’s commencement ceremony Thursday as punishment for orchestrating a senior prank that caused the school to call police and conduct a lockout on June 7.
The student along with five other seniors—who participated in the water balloon and food fight, that also resulted in four students receiving minor injuries—are currently suspended. This requires them to take their Regents exams separate from other students. The five seniors will also perform three, three-hour shifts of clean-up duty in order to be allowed to walk across the stage at graduation .
About five additional students in grades 11 and 12 were also suspended for throwing food and/or balloons during the melee—their suspensions will continue into September of the 2012-13 school year. The disciplinary measures were decided through superintendent's hearings.
Superintendent Dr. Christopher Clouet said that there were approximately 10 students being reprimanded for the incident, and that if others are discovered they too could be disciplined.
“We’re going to make it very clear to next year’s senior class that if anything even remotely like this happens there will be massive non-participation,” said Clouet. “It’s unacceptable behavior.”
A June 14 letter posted on the district’s website by WPHS Assistant Principal Leroy Dixon gave a full account of the incident, which started 11:47 a.m., along with details of how the district handled the situation. Click here to read the letter. All the students who were injured returned to school the next day, the letter said.
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Clouet said that there were only a few dozen students who were involved and they were mostly doing nothing more than running around, as is shown in YouTube videos posted from the incident.
Clouet said that incident was overblown on Facebook and YouTube, where students decided to “ham it up for the camera.” Clouet said the district investigated whether or not there were balloons thrown with bleach and urine inside of them, as was rumored on YouTube, and that there was no evidence of this.
“This was not a riot, and this was not most of the school,” said Clouet. “In fact, most of the kids in school were not even aware of it.”
The incident at WPHS was among several senior prank stories reported this week across the country that resulted in students jeopardizing their commencement ceremony privileges.
“I think given the situation that presented itself, it was handled as well as it could have been,” said Clouet. “I’m thankful there was no serious injuries, no vandalism, no arrests, and it didn’t escalate into any fisticuffs. It’s a prank gone awry, and some are suffering the consequences from it—and we’re moving forward.”