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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Southern Lehigh HS senior prank of camping inside school walls

Southern Lehigh High School senior prank17 Southern Lehigh High School students suspended for five days for camping inside an enclosed courtyard and scaling the school walls. Unamused school officials by the seniors latest prank called for police involvement. Three of them may lose their National Honor Society membership.

Senior students leave their senior pranks mark before graduation since it's been a tradition for decades. Nowadays, security measures have been tough and officials have changed on how to react to pranks since the post-Columbine era.

''No question we live in the context of the times, breaking into schools and letting animals loose was a prank in the '70s and '80s. Today, that could be considered a terrorist act.'' Director of the National Association of Secondary Schools, Mel Riddile said.

There has been a long history of pranks at the school, a trend that has progressively become more dangerous.

Friday, Southern Lehigh Superintendent Joseph P. Liberati sat down with a few students and shared the school's perspective. It was followed then by a gathering of about 75 students protesting the punishment resulting from Monday's camping prank.

Riddile said educators are doing more to make expectations and boundaries clear as prank season approaches. A growing number of principals get students involved in school-wide decisions. Liability is another concern. While a prank may be conceived as harmless, things go wrong. Indeed, Southern Lehigh's solicitor, James Bartholomew, said students crossed the line from intended harmless funny pranks ideas and practical jokes to potentially dangerous trespassing when they entered the secured grounds.

Brett Ryan, one of the suspended campers who lost his National Honor Society membership, said the 17 seniors involved planned the overnight camping prank to be ''as harmless as possible.''

Liberati said he hopes to work with students to eliminate year-end pranks and, instead, create events that celebrate the camaraderie of students without risking injury.Despite the controversy, students don't predict the end of senior pranks.


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