The senior students who allowed a harmless prank on favored teachers to escalate into damage at Pendleton County High School will make more reparations than formerly announced, according to Principal Tim Woodward.
The now graduated students volunteered to increase their two-day discipline stint of helping the custodians this summer to five days. They also will share the cost of the school and fire department cleanup, which will average about $60 to $100 per person, Woodward said.
"The kids decided to pay and do the extra work, and the School Board agreed. Both sides worked out the details. I was not part of the discussion," Woodward said Tuesday.
He had addressed the problem several times with the kids and their parents.
"It seemed like a mutual decision of the kids and parents together," Woodward said.
On May 20 at about 8 p.m., 25 seniors accompanied by six or seven other teenagers entered PCHS to play a prank on some of their favorite teachers. Their foray was captured on security camera tape, which was shown to the teachers the following day.
Sheriff Kevin Puffenberger took photos of the damage, but does not plan further investigation because "it's a school situation unless I receive a criminal complaint."
Custodian Robert Bennett was very upset when he had to come in on May 20 to clean up the classrooms, and school was canceled May 21 to allow time for the cleanup, Bennett said.
The kids "had strewn straw throughout the school, rest rooms and teachers' restroom; thrown corn in the parking lot; put shaving cream and Vaseline from one end to the other all over the doors and handrails; used some kind of paint on the windows that took a lot of time to clean off; used Saran wrap, tin foil and bubble wrap around the toilet seats, over the toilet stalls and around some chairs drug out into the hall; strung yarn and ribbon all over the classrooms; and put fishing line across the hallways that could have been used as a trip line," Bennett said.
"It was a mess, a total mess. It was a disaster." Bennett said.
Woodward said the students had made the "most creative rearrangement of room furniture that he had ever seen. The teachers had to inventory their classrooms to determine if anything was stolen, but nothing was missing," Woodward said.
"We had out-of-hand pranking. The magnitude of the things they did took us a lot of time to clean up," Woodward said, adding that the students know what they did was wrong. "These are the brightest, outstanding leaders of the school ... the top 10 percent of the class. Most don't have a 'dot' on their record."
Senior Class Vice President Sophie Bennett said the group was very sorry for what happened.
"We're good kids who wanted to have a harmless prank," she said. "It did get out of hand. We admit that."
The group came back to the school at 1 a.m. May 21 offering to help clean up.
"We were told it was a crime scene and the officers had to get pictures, which is understandable. But, next morning we again came back and were told we were not allowed in the building. They did not need or want us to clean up," Sophie Bennett said.
Franklin Senior Abigail Anderson pointed out that the break-in group consisted of class officers, Honor Society and Beta Club members, honor graduates and members from all the school associations.
"We're not a bad group of kids," Anderson said. "We made a mistake and we're trying to make it right."
Superintendent Doug Lambert gave the former seniors until Aug. 10 to pay the amount needed for the cleanup costs.
Three kids per week will help the custodian staff throughout the summer.
Woodward said it's time "to move on and put the prank behind us. I will remember this senior class for its outstanding qualities, and there were many. We all learned something from this."