Tradition of the Senior Prank

St. Louis Post Dispatch article on a senior prank from 1978.

Most seniors have already been accepted into colleges and it seems like their high school years about just about over. However some students often want to get one more kick out of high school and thus comes the time honored tradition of the senior prank.

Over the years Clayton High School has seen many of these pranks. Some good, some bad, and others just plain weird. One of the most large scale pranks ever done was back in 1978.
Clayton High School Alum Louis Stifflelman was a senior during that year.

“At 2:00 am the whole class of about 100 people went into the commons and wrote graffiti on the wall for three hours, there wasn’t one inch of the wall that wasn’t covered,” Stiffelman said. “The principal let us into the building with the knowledge of what we were going to do.”

What was special about this prank was a bond issue was supposed to be passed that would re-do the commons at the end of the year and get rid of the graffiti.

“The funny part was that the bond issue didn’t pass and the graffiti stayed up for about three years,” Stiffelman said. “It was the perfect situation.”
This prank got attention from the local media.  There was even a page in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch about it.

However, some senior pranks don’t turn out as well as this one.

“About two years ago students tried to put alarm clocks all over the school to go off at the same time and it didn’t work out to well,” said history teacher Kurtis Werner. “It was a pretty funny concept, but there were members of that senior class that disrupted classes on the last day and it was disrespectful.”

This is not the only senior prank to take a turn for the worse, some have gone above disrespectful and taken it to a criminal level.

Student Resource Officer John Zlatic said that some senior pranks have required criminal investigation due to property damage. Some students have also had to do school services in order to graduate because their prank was too severe. “One involved the spreading of animal feces on doorways and other parts of the schools, another involved placing an inappropriate object on the roof of the school, and there were some individuals that drew improper things on other student’s cars and on construction walls.” Zlatic said, ” We as a school cannot condone any act that involves property damage, criminal trespassing, or possible hate speech. Some of these pranks were visible to the Clayton community and were a poor reflection of who and what we stand for.”

One unique aspect of senior pranks at CHS is that Clayton is one of the few schools that actually “approves” the student pranks.

“The tradition of the senior prank rests with Dr. Losos and the principals,” Zlatic said. “Dr. Losos has an understanding with our students that if seniors want to have a senior skip day then the class will reciprocate with a prank that is respectful to CHS.”

In the end the senior prank is really an opportunity for the graduating class to get creative.

“The challenge is for seniors to use their imagination and intelligence in a respectful manner,” Zlatic said. “My advice, obviously, is to stay away from anything dangerous [or] criminal.”