Palo Alto High School’s administration is cautioning seniors who may be planning to participate in one of Paly’s most notorious traditions: the senior prank.
Consequences for pranks can range in severity, according to Assistant Principal Jerry Berkson.
“There could be repercussions or arrests made in certain situations,” Berkson said. “Money could also come out the senior class’s bank account.”
In the past, senior pranksters have been arrested, according to Berkson.
“We had an arrest in the past for students who flipped a car on the deck and did damage to the deck,” Berkson said. “The person who admitted to doing it was 18 so that changed things a lot. Fortunately it worked out because it wasn’t a felony, but it could have very well been a felony which is a big issue.”
Berkson emphasizes the fact that intent doesn’t always match the consequences.
“Just because someone has the intent of doing an innocent prank, it doesn’t mean that it will always turn out the way it was planned,” Berkson said. “If you have a group of 20 kids who want to do a prank, but two of them have malicious intent, now everyone is bunched in with the other two.”
To avoid unintended repercussions, Berkson advises that prospective pranksters check in with administration beforehand.
“You’ve got a bunch of kids who work hard for four years and you’d hate for them to blow it and ruin their potential coming out of high school, so it’s not a bad idea to check with us,” Berkson said. “We’ve had kids check in with us first and being that our [administration’s] life experience is a little more extensive, we can steer them in the right the direction. Be smart about it.”Emma Chiu, Voice alumna and graduate of the Class of 2015 echoed Berkson’s notion of having fun in a safe way.
“I loved our senior prank last year,” Chiu said. “It was so much fun. On the last day of school we [the Class of 2015] decided to have an extension of the senior camp out and we put tents on the quad. There were red solo cups thrown around, but we made sure they were cleaned up. It had the aesthetic of partying, without necessarily doing that on campus. It was better than other ones that have been unsafe and expensive.”
According to Berkson, senior pranks have been a part of Paly for a long time.
“I’ve heard stories that there was a cow at the top of the Tower Building,” Berkson said. “I also heard that someone put three pigs the library and labeled them one, two and four so people would look for the non-existent third pig. I don’t know if those stories are folklore since it was before my time.”
Overall the administration seems to support the tradition as long as it is safe and harmless.
“It’s tough because you want the kids to have fun and be spirited, but where do you draw the line?” Berkson said. “We’re not fans [of the senior prank], but as long as there are no safety or health issues or damage to the facility, we can live with it. It’s bothersome when pranks force the custodial staff to do a lot of cleaning.”