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senior prank

Original post made by surprised, Charleston Meadows, on Jun 5, 2007

I came home today and I heard from my child that goes to PALY that a group of seniors turned a car over on a deck and cemented a toilet into a seating area. From what I understand the car and toilet were removed before school started and there was minimal damage to the deck and the seating area. What surprised me was that as I write this there is a senior sitting in jail somewhere getting charged with a felony. I remember the days when this would be see as what it is, a meaningless prank by some seniors trying to have fun and continue a legacy. At the very most I beleive this young man's penalty should have been to pay for the damage and to maybe get suspended, but I would have never of thought there would be a felony charge for a senior prank. I was wondering what responses you readers might have. I personaly think this is a little extreme.

Comments (21)

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Posted by anon.
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jun 5, 2007 at 6:48 pm

sounds like par for the course to me
i think that this type of response is to be expected
seriously, the days of innocence to which you harken are long gone
the party over
the mountain sold
these tricksters are lucky they don't get labled at terrorists
since they damaged public property
like those "radicals" in oregon
some students do some truly harmful not to mention idiotic things
like cutting down trees or blowing up drinking fountains
in case you forget
let this be a learining lesson
break the law
suffer the consequences


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Posted by MIT alum
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 5, 2007 at 11:43 pm

Wow. Coming from a place with a long tradition of clever hacks and pranks, such as when a group of students assembled a fully functional police car on the roof of the big dome at MIT -- I'm appalled. Smoke bombs (which can cause fire), okay, sure. But how could anyone mistake this for anything except a prank? I'm pretty humorless myself, and even **I** don't consider it vandalism...


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 5, 2007 at 11:51 pm

You know something, there have been high schoolers vandalizing our local elementary for months, ruining a memorial garden for a child from our school, leaving trash and even used condoms lying around the playground and local park, things that should never be around small kids. I think a far better use of police time is to collect these items and have them DNA tested. THAT perp should be in jail; I can't even begin to fathom why a harmless prank like this Paly senior prank would warrant such heavyhandedness.


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Posted by noone
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 6, 2007 at 2:39 am

what makes you think anyone was arrested?


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Posted by Kathy
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jun 6, 2007 at 7:48 am

^^The Weekly story said he was arrested.

I also believe that an arrest is overreaction, though if the damage was really $3k as the story says, he should pay that. Since he's 18, too, his name is published, which means that any potential employer forever more will know that he was charged with a felony.

Pretty harsh stuff for a senior prank, even with damages. :(


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Posted by was one once
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 6, 2007 at 12:40 pm

Adult responsibilities rest heavy on the heads of the youth. But with all the 15 years olds who say they are mature enough to run the live, and the parents who let them, it isn't amazing that no one is responsible for their behavior at 18.


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Posted by Palo alto mom
a resident of Professorville
on Jun 7, 2007 at 10:44 am

This is a ridiculous, over the top response to a prank. A small amount of decking was damaged, easily replaced. Cleaning up the damage and paying for it makes sense, extra time cleaning up the school as an additional consequence, even a suspension but calling the police is a silly over reaction.

We have all done things in our youth we regret, many of us have played harmless pranks. Should a kid (even if he's 18, he's a kid) sit in jail for it? By the way, I'm impressed with the young man's keeping silent and not telling on his friends. Under other circumstances, I'd expect them to come forward - but with the over reaction of Paly, I'd tell my child to keep quiet.


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Posted by PA Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 7, 2007 at 11:20 am

Well, its all fun and games until someone pokes an eye out.

How did they get the car turned over? That must have been real safe.

If someone would have been smashed under that car, you bet your boots the community would be outcrying - the school or school district would be bashed for lax security. The parents of the stupid kids would probably be suing, and we'd ALL be paying for it...

I applaud the reaction. Stupid is as stupid does. Maybe this will deter the next (ha ha ha real funny) prank that ends up actually hurting someone.


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Posted by Paly neighbor
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jun 7, 2007 at 1:14 pm

The idea that vandalism is amusing and a normal part of a boy's life isn't a universal way to look at it. They are either rich kids to whom property is replaceable or angry kids who enjoy destroying other people's things. Calling it a prank is a way of making something ugly look good.
Anyone who says we've all done things like that is wrong. No we haven't. And most of our kids are decent and empathetic people.
The troublemakers sometimes define the culture and make the news, but in no way does the majority belong to it.


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Posted by second that
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jun 7, 2007 at 4:02 pm

quite correct.


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Posted by enough already
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jun 7, 2007 at 4:40 pm

"The idea that vandalism is amusing and a normal part of a boy's life isn't a universal way to look at it. They are either rich kids to whom property is replaceable or angry kids who enjoy destroying other people's things. "

Oh, please! Viewing pranksters as "either rich kids...or angry kids" is disingenuous at best. Why do you need to look at them "in a universal way"? They are individuals. Stereotyping teenage boys in Palo Alto does a disservice to most of them. Summon up your imagination and think of what else might motivate a group of seniors at the tail end of their 4 possibly high-pressured years together to do such a prank.

Surely you're not saying that all high school pranksters around the world are either rich or angry. The only thing I can see them having in common is being 18ish and at the tail end of their public education experience.


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Posted by Mom
a resident of Gunn High School
on Jun 8, 2007 at 12:54 pm

There has been a history of senior pranks in Palo Alto. In 1994 two senior pranksters attempted to create smoke in a drinking fountain at Gunn which ended up as a dangerous fire that burned several other students.

This prank had consequences. One of the students, who had been admitted to a prestigious East Coast University, had his admittance revoked by that university. The local police and the PAUSD did not have to punish him, he jeopadized his own very promising future.

This should be a warning to over the top senior pranksters that your behavior can be detrimental to your future college life. Colleges are watching, your place can very easily be filled by someone else.

A few years earlier some senior Gunn students cut down a huge majestic old oak tree which stood in the middle of the lawn where the graduation ceremonies take place, providing much needed shade. Although the tree was replaced, audiences for graduation ceremonies have had to sit in the hot sun ever since. This prank had real long term consequences, and I remember at the time the students involved took no responsibility for their actions.




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Posted by tired of bickering
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 8, 2007 at 1:27 pm

Turning your own car over on a deck at school is vastly different than setting off a bomb at Gunn. Not to condone pranks, but this was just mischief. Not angry kids, not rich kids with no regard for property, just a mischief. No one was hurt - it was just the maintenace crew that was inconvenienced.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 8, 2007 at 1:38 pm

I think to some extent we are playing into the hands of the perpetrators of this prank. This has escalated much further than they expected so their fame is greater than expected. If the school authorities had dealt with this themselves, if the car had been left where it was until school started and all the kids could see the prank, then by today it would be old news and almost forgotten. Instead, what we have is Fox news doing an almost entry level into its prime broadcast, headlines in local newspapers, the student's name known in every household, and all set to go on further. Wow. What success. A week ago he was a nobody outside campus, now he is a local celebrity in the Bay Area. Maybe he won't be allowed to walk with his class, doesn't matter, he will probably get a slot on Mornings on 2 instead. He has the school wearing his t shirts, collecting money for his fine and even the elementary kids idolising him. True, give it a month and we will have forgotten. But his prank far from giving him 15 minutes of fame at school has given him a lifelong fame in local community folklore.


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Posted by tired of bickering
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 8, 2007 at 7:41 pm

This is a nice kid from a nice family is being used as an example. He didn't seek the fame, an over zealous adminstration caused it. It should have been just school business and school discipline.


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Posted by A taxpayer
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 9, 2007 at 6:51 am

As a taxpayer I'm asking that all those who think $3,000 damage is chump change donate the money for repairs so the taxpayers don't have to foot the bill.


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Posted by tired of bickering
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 9, 2007 at 8:49 am

The student offered to pay the damage.


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Posted by Joanna
a resident of Green Acres
on Jun 12, 2007 at 10:01 am

I'm sure his parents will get this felony erased from his record. Money talks.


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Posted by tired of bickering
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 12, 2007 at 12:58 pm

Joanna - why do you automatically assume that this students family has money? Or that they need to pay someone? This is something which should have never gotten to this point in the first place, it is a school district matter.


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Posted by tired of bickering
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 12, 2007 at 12:58 pm

Joanna - why do you automatically assume that this students family has money? Or that they need to pay someone? This is something which should have never gotten to this point in the first place, it is a school district matter.


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Posted by Paly neighbor
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jun 14, 2007 at 9:38 am

It is interesting that the boy's parents are not part of any news story. Usually there are pictures of distraught parents when a kid gets in trouble.


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