A Senior Prank Approved by the Principal

Many graduating high school seniors try to leave their mark with a clever or devilish prank. At Montpelier High School in Vermont, seniors left behind an artistic statement that met with their principal's approval. Liane Hansen talks with Principal Peter Evans.

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This time of year high-school officials across the country are busy preparing for graduation ceremonies, encouraging students to enjoy safe prom nights and all too often cleaning up or repairing school facilities after the customary pranks played by seniors celebrating an end to their secondary school education.

The principal of Montpelier High School enjoyed a pleasant surprise this past week when he returned to school after the Memorial Day weekend. Yes, some students had broken into the school over the weekend, and they had painted a celestial mural on the ceiling of the school's main lobby. Principal Peter Evans likes the mural so much he intends to keep it and to ask the student vandals, if you can call them that, to paint the cafeteria. Peter Evans joins us from Montpelier, Vermont.

Thanks for your time, sir.

Mr. PETER EVANS (Principal, Montpelier High School): Well, thanks so much. It's a pleasure to be with you.

HANSEN: So tell us about your first impression of the mural in the lobby and what it looks like.

Mr. EVANS: I came in Tuesday morning and was surprised to see the ceiling panels had been painted. It's painted in sky and clouds and blues and whites. And right in the center is a really beautiful sun. And they signed it over in the far corner, so that you could barely see it, but they signed it with their class script and it's kind of their painting for us, I guess.

HANSEN: So you know who did it.

Mr. EVANS: A few of the kids who are responsible have stepped up and wondered what our reaction was and asked us how we like it. So...

HANSEN: Well, on the one hand, you like it, you're going to keep it, but on the other hand, it's a prank and...

Mr. EVANS: Right.

HANSEN: ...there are consequences.

Mr. EVANS: That's right. I mean, it's been a challenge I think as a principal to send a message that we don't appreciate students coming into school without permission, and we also don't appreciate the fact that there was some painting done without any kind of authorization. We do have some policy protocol we follow. So the students who were involved are going to be giving up some of their time next week during finals week to come in and paint some of the ceiling tiles in our cafeteria, which we're also working to kind of improve the climate of. So they've taken that as the consequence and given up some of their free time.

HANSEN: Is this current senior class different? Has it been consistently different from other classes in the past?

Mr. EVANS: It really has been. This group has given many, many hours being part of committees and taking part in summer workshops. This class has been really instrumental in helping us to recognize that our high school needs to change and become a place where kids are really prepared for community, prepared for their role in a democracy and to have a voice in how that all happens. So this project is a real legacy as opposed to a prank, and it'll give us something to remember these kids by.

HANSEN: Peter Evans is the principal at Montpelier High School in Montpelier, Vermont.

Thanks for your time.

Mr. EVANS: I appreciate it. Thank you very much.

HANSEN: It's 22 minutes before the hour.

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