Town Square

Post a New Topic

Share your memories of high school senior pranks

Original post made by Tyler Hanley, digital editor of Palo Alto Online, on Jun 6, 2007

Remember past senior pranks at Palo Alto high schools? Post your memories of them, with the year they occurred, and what the consequences were, if any.

Comments (21)

Posted by Jim
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jun 6, 2007 at 8:13 pm

Why? I always love these people who want to live their high school days forever! Get a life. Oh by the way- I had a GREAT TIME in high school (sports, girlfriend, etc.) but is time to move on.

Posted by pediRN
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 6, 2007 at 8:32 pm

The senior prank during my freshman year at Paly was an artistic display of Michelob bottles lining the roofs of all the buildings on the quad. Apparently, the seniors who called themselves "the Michelob gang," spent all night arranging the bottles about 3 inches apart all along the roof. The effect was both artistic and stunning.....the year was 1977. The stunt made the front page of the paper. And, no I don't in ANYWAY condone teenage drinking, but arresting an 18 year old senior for parking his car upside down? Just plain stupid. These poor kids can't do anything!

Posted by OldMemories
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jun 6, 2007 at 9:32 pm

I did not go to high school in Palo Alto - but here is a prank that someone played during our high school years. Every classroom had a ceiling fan - one boy decided to bend the blades of the fan in the opposite direction .. why .. he alone knows ! It was a dare and he took it up. It created quite a stir. The staff told the boy that he could not graduate till he paid for replacing the fans and they offered him various jobs around the school. The kid took up all the jobs ( I still think a bunch of other kids who had participated in the dare, helped him with the job - though no one officially admitted this )

The kid graduated with the rest of the class. It was a lesson learnt by the following classes - do something stupid and you got to fix it.

Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 7, 2007 at 9:11 am

I didn't go to high school in PA. This prank indeed was from a different time, and culture, but very funny.

Very few seniors were able to drive. Teachers had a cloakroom to hang coats which was easily accessible to anyone. Many teachers kept their keys in their coat pockets. Someone got all the car keys and went to the driveway which was where the teachers parked and drove a lot of the teachers cars and parked them neatly on the hockey field, a cross country 100 yard drive through a narrow gap in a brick wall. As the school bell rang for the end of school there were about 15 cars very neatly parked side by side on the hockey field and a pile of car keys in a box beside the teachers cloakroom.

No damage, no culprit every discovered. No punishment. Many fond memories.

Posted by Parent
a resident of Southgate
on Jun 7, 2007 at 11:29 am

I worked summers for my dad's pharmaceutical company and they had "industrial strength" food dyes. I procurred a few colors and a couple of pals and I set off to dye the swimming pool. We had scoped out the scene and when we were sure the "coast was clear" we hopped the fence and began to spill out the colors, aided by some bottles of Alka Seltzer, which we figured would help disperse the dye. Much to our surprise, we were being watched the whole time by police who shined their lights on us. We ran like heck, but were apprehended a few hundred yards down the way. We denied that it was us, but some of the dye had gotten on our hands, and there was no denying. We did some community service - and our records were expunged. Later we all had a good laugh that we were "caught red-handed". For the record - I'd like to see them go easy on the current Paly senior that was arrested.

Posted by Nearby
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jun 7, 2007 at 11:39 am

I didn't go to Paly but did attend another SCVAL school many many years ago. I'm somewhere in between my 30th and 40th high school reunion.

The two pranks I was involved with were:

1. Disassembling the frame of an ancient truck (we'd already taken out the engine and seats and other heavy stuff), hoisting it to the top of the gym, and putting it back together up there. I mentioned this in the original Blaine thread. It sat there for a while until the school figured out how to get it down. Nobody was caught, no charges filed, lots of giggles and people saying, "Why would aliens pick up that piece of junk and drop it on our gym?"

2. Swapping out clothes between a select number of lockers in the girls' and boys' locker rooms. We took the contents of, say, Locker 101 in the boys' locker room and switched it with the contents of the same locker in the girls' locker room. This one required that one of the gang have keys to pretty much everything, including the master lock keys. We had a very well-organized group that pulled this one off; nobody squawked, nobody got hurt, and none of us got caught.

Other pranks at my high school included stuff I considered too destructive to get involved with, such as filling a below-grade area in the quad with Jell-o, and stealing the flagpole and burying it in an empty lot. Neither is possible at that school any more -- the quad was remodeled, with the tempting below-grade area removed, and the empty lot across the street now has a couple of houses on it.

There were also kids who regularly dusted doorknobs with silver nitrate, which I think is destructive and can hurt people (and clothes) badly. It got so bad at one point that I carried around paper towels for opening doors.

There was also a seat in the bathroom that was sprinkled with strong hydrochloric acid; a girl got her hands burned because she tried to clean the seat off first rather than sit on a wet seat. I wanted the kid who pulled the hydrochloric acid stunt to sit in jail because somebody could have been badly hurt. The chem teachers all ended up with locks on the cupboards, and these pranks finally stopped.

I still maintain that the main reason the Paly kids got into so much trouble is the blatant drug reference on the car. That was dumb. The rest of the prank was creative and, I thought, funny.

Posted by AG
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 7, 2007 at 1:54 pm

Sometime in the middle to late 60s, a bunch of guys went through the student parking lot at Paly, and disengaged one spark plug under each hood. Since I knew what was going on, I tried my car, jumped out and fixed the matter. The guys couldn't believe that a girl knew what to do. It was fun to watch others trying to figure it out.

Posted by Andrew L. Freedman
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 7, 2007 at 2:51 pm

One very early morning in 1969, my friends and I snuck out while it was still dark. We walked from Loma Verde to East Meadow on Cowper Street.

Wait . . . dang, some folks might still be mad.



Posted by jai
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 7, 2007 at 9:51 pm

We took apart the baseball outfield fence, brought it from the sports field and fenced in our quad area. That same night we (about 30 of us--student council, valedictorians, etc) drove around the surrounding neighborhoods looking for "for sale" signs and the like. We met back at school in the wee hours, assembled our 50 or so signs on the front lawn of our school. WE laughed and laughed...It was harmless fun.

And to the first poster: we have moved on from high school, you just need to lighten up.

Posted by why not
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 7, 2007 at 10:22 pm

At our high school one group brought a VW bug into the cafeteria and filled it with water and goldfish. It was there for at least a day while the staff was busy trying to figure out how to empty it. Leaking water was a problem.

Another year a group of seniors dropped a bunch of tires over the flagpole. Not overly inspiring, but I'm sure they felt clever. We learned about it in freshman algebra when our teacher turned releasing the tires up over the pole into a homework problem. I think they hired a cherry picker. Could never figure out why they couldn't just cut them??

Clearly the administrative staff's problem-solving skills were a bit lacking.

Then there was the year the streakers ran across the courtyard. It was enclosed on 4 sides with classrooms and hallways, and a door on either diagonal corner. The streakers took off with a big crowd forming -- too bad they forgot to check whether the door on the other side was unlocked.

Posted by gunn grad
a resident of Gunn High School
on Jun 7, 2007 at 11:57 pm

one of the pranks that went awry when i was in high school...
Web Link
lives were changed that day...

Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 8, 2007 at 11:17 am

I recall in the early 1980s or late 70s, the seniors at Gunn drove a car into the swimming pool.

Posted by 72 paly grad
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 8, 2007 at 6:07 pm

class of 1972 - a bunch of us drove to paly late in the evening with a couple of trucks filled with old car tires. We formed a bucket-brigade and tossed tires over the fence and rolled them into the pool.

As we got the last few over the fence, a couple of folks materialized from behind the trees. Little did we know that a meeting at 25 Churchhill had just finished and a few Paly administrators were walking back to their cars. They didn't say anything but apparently recognized a few of us scofflaws.

The next morning at school we got a personal invitation to visit counselor who suggested tires be gone by end of school day if we didn't wish to repeat senior year.

Posted by Hulkamania
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 8, 2007 at 8:23 pm

The night before the Paly class of '65 graduated, the class of '66 decorated the quad with their class year. The maintenance guys were able to paint it all out in time. I also heard a rumor that a few beatings were handed out by some '65 tough guys.

Posted by Cynthia Christensen
a resident of University South
on Jun 8, 2007 at 10:39 pm

Cynthia Christensen is a registered user.

The year I graduated from Paly,1968, someone put a shark in the school swimming pool. It was caught while fishing in the Monterey Bay and brought to Palo Alto. In previous years, garbage cans were put on the school roof, especially along the Senior Court. And, someone put a VW Bug on the roof of the school.

I didn't hear of any punishment for these acts. We thought they were pretty good pranks as no one was harmed and there was minimal damage to property. Though I was a Goodie-Two-Shoes and would never have done anything so bold, I would have defended my classmates to the bitter end. What they did represented me, as well as the entire class history. It was an exclaimation towards the end of public school life which was traditional and expected to be done by SOMEONE.

Posted by Roy DeGregory
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jun 10, 2007 at 11:31 am

1968. I remember the shark in the pool, but what we did was break into the Dean of Boys' office one night and fill it, floor to ceiling, with wadded up newspapers. If I remember right, one of us removed the putty from one of the back courtyard windows in order to remove the glass, reach in and unlock it, then puttied the glass back in place. So, no property damage. Unfortunately, the next morning the maintenance guy broke the glass to get into the window as we had wedged the hall door shut from inside while in there.

Posted by Statute
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 11, 2007 at 2:46 pm

Gee Roy
In today's dollars, pane of glass installed by union maintenance crew might exceed $400. Has statute of limitation lapsed?

Hope you didn't use your real name...

Posted by gunn alum
a resident of another community
on Jun 12, 2007 at 10:38 pm

When I was a freshman at Gunn in the late 80s a student figured out how to hack into the PA system and played prerecorded KSJO shows. The administration couldn't figure out how to turn it off or where it was coming from. The damage that was done was from teachers cutting the wires. The student came forward and told the admins where it was. I believe he had to help clean up the school as punishment. It was an awesome prank and made national news.

Posted by RS
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 12, 2007 at 11:44 pm

This one was simple, but fun and done during my Senior year.

I did not grow up in PA, but like PA some of us got to go for a week to Yosemite Institute. Prior to going we were told many times that on a previous trip kids had misbehaved and our school was almost not allowed to go back because of the damage that was done. We were on our honor to behave, so future students could go on the trip. The teachers seemed pretty sincere about this and reminded us about it at every opportunity.

Well the teachers went off to the Ahwahnee Hotel Bar, leaving us with light adult supervision. I had noticed a long piece of abandoned 110 volt wire that a contractor must have left as scrap on the ground. With the help of a friend, I draped the wire over a teacher’s cabin roof with an end hanging down right near her front door. I found the circuit breakers in the rear of the cabin and turned them off. When she returned she barely noticed the wire, and went in and tried to turn her lights on and nothing. She then recalled seeing the wire. Now part of this prank was to stand around and look guilty. She started asked questions, we of course confessed that we had done it, but did not elaborate on what “it” was. She of course looked at the evidence and came to the wrong conclusion. She did her best to keep her composure and get us to understand that magnitude of what we had done.

“Do you know what this means???” We probably won’t ever be allowed to return now!
We of course tried out best to look remorseful as she tried to get us to understand what we had done and what the consequences were going to be. The lecture went on for a good 20 minutes. About how we had betrayed a trust and our parents would have to be called and drive up and get us.

Eventually though the two of us busted up laughing and then she realized there was more to it, and we confessed about what we had really done to her.

She then took us around for repeat performances and helped us to victimize other teachers.

Posted by Roy DeGregory
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jun 14, 2007 at 10:57 am

To Statute: Just a thought, if I can prove I forgot everything I ever learned at Paly, does that resolve me of responsibility for anything I did while attending?

Posted by Thyum Weigand
a resident of Southgate
on Oct 31, 2007 at 7:55 am

It's currentyl my senior year in highschool. this is our story. Me and others it was funny . we are from ohio

October 22,2007 was a day those five students will never forget. The group thought that it would be funny and an easy prank to take the bricks along the path that leads down behind the school down to the doors, then stack the bricks up in front of the doors. That would cause people not to be able to see into the building or access the doors that were blocked. They figured that they could block the back doors then move up and block the front doors also. Well it rained on their parade in more ways than one. Literally it was raining that night then after the got the lower back door blocked up a cop car came. The cops were alerted by janitors from the middle school. The five pranksters took off and tried to run, but fell short. Way short straight into a ditch/creek about five feet into cold water. They tried running more but were caught by thorns and the cops had their tazer’s set on a couple of the students saying he was going to taze them if they moved. Four of the students were arrested and taken to their houses. One of the students who is 18 was taken to the jail house. He stayed in a holding cell for an hour or more and had to get finger printed and went to court. He received his punishment from the court, which was probation and community service. The school gave all of the students two days AlE and ten hours community service.

Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.


Post a comment

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Stay informed.

Get the day's top headlines from Palo Alto Online sent to your inbox in the Express newsletter.

Burning just one "old style" light bulb can cost $150 or more per year
By Sherry Listgarten | 12 comments | 2,992 views

Banning the public from PA City Hall
By Diana Diamond | 26 comments | 2,145 views

Pacifica’s first brewery closes its doors
By The Peninsula Foodist | 0 comments | 1,867 views

Premiere! “I Do I Don’t: How to build a better marriage” – Here, a page/weekday
By Chandrama Anderson | 2 comments | 1,418 views

Holiday Fun in San Francisco- Take the Walking Tour for An Evening of Sparkle!
By Laura Stec | 7 comments | 1,405 views


Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund

For the last 30 years, the Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund has given away almost $10 million to local nonprofits serving children and families. 100% of the funds go directly to local programs. It’s a great way to ensure your charitable donations are working at home.