Biking Kenowa Hills seniors punished
Senior prank rolled over school officials' toes
Updated: Tuesday, 22 May 2012, 9:45 PM EDT
Published : Tuesday, 22 May 2012, 10:12 AM EDT
WALKER, Mich. (WOOD) - As high school seniors get set to walk commencement, toilets are exploding, lockers are getting graffitied and doors are getting super-glued.
The vandalism is part of the tradition known as senior pranks.
But a decision by Kenowa Hills seniors to do something a lot less harmful has drawn the ire of their principal.
The plan was to hold a bike parade as a nice, non-destructive, healthy senior prank.
Seniors called police for an escort, and even called Walker's mayor, who rode in the parade.
"Police escort, with the mayor, who brought us donuts. ...The mayor brought us donuts..." said a group of seniors following the ride.
But school official weren't told in advance, hence the word prank, and were not happy with the event.
They kicked the seniors out of school for their last day and threatened to keep them from walking in graduation ceremonies set for May 30.
Cellphone video caught audio of principal Katie Pennington in a post-prank gathering in the school's performing arts center.
"...Get your butts home. You're not participating in senior walk today."
About 60 seniors got the day off and missed the traditional last walk through the hallways at Kenowa Hills, although students say many more seniors got the one-day suspensions.
It all began when seniors decided to do something original that wouldn't hurt anything for a senior prank.
So they arranged the parade, which followed Kinney Avenue to Three Mile Road to Fruit Ridge Avenue to Four Mile Road to the school, complete with a police escort.
But when they arrived at the school, Principal Katie Pennington went off on students.
She claims the parade backed up traffic for two miles, kept buses and staff from reaching school on time and put students in danger.
"If you and your parents don't have sense enough to know your brains could end up splattered on Three Mile and Kinney, Fruit Ridge, then maybe that's my responsibility," she is heard telling students on the cellphone video obtained by 24 Hour News 8.
Mayor Rob VerHeulen was in the police car escorting the kids and says the officer wasn't concerned about a backup, or the bike riders' safety.
Kenowa Hills Superintendent Gerald Hopkins admitted to 24 Hour News 8 the reaction and punishment from school officials was as much showing them who's in charge as it was reacting to problems they claim were caused by the prank.
"It's a combination…certainly a combination of both," said Hopkins.
"Because of its nature on the last day for seniors to be here it is certainly being classified as a prank...and the communication to the students were pranks won't be tolerated and there will be consequences for those pranks."
School officials have since backed off on the threat of keeping the seniors involved from walking in graduation next week. The senior walk though has been rescheduled for May 30.