The suspension of 30 Mt. Juliet High School students is drawing ire from many because some believe the penalty exceeds the crime.
The so-called “Senior Snuggle” prank took place Thursday morning when more than three-dozen seniors donned pajamas and took to the floor in the school’s hallways with props such as stuffed animals, blankets and pillows. The seniors said they got together beforehand to figure out an “innocent prank” that wouldn’t hurt anyone or the school. The group claims they were simply following tradition, a tradition that included a myriad of pranks throughout the years that never seemed to concern administration – at least not to the level of suspending students.
Last year, crickets were let loose in the school’s bathrooms as the prank, said students. Another year, chickens were let loose after-hours in the school. This year, they donned pajamas and took a two-minute “nap” in the hallways. The difference is that this year’s prank came with a swift suspension. That wasn’t the case in prior years.
The school administration defends their actions based on the disruption caused by the incident, citing it deserved a stiff punishment. They said the consequence for the violation won’t prevent the students from taking exams or participating in graduation. That viewpoint doesn’t mention, though, the long-term ramifications, particularly for students aspiring to attend more-selective universities.
Despite parents’ and students’ protests, the extreme measures taken were justified by Wilson County interim Director of Schools Mary Ann Sparks, by way of a press release. “The incident created a disturbance and disruption of the school, as well as creating a safety hazard for those tying to step over the students,” said Sparks. “Pedestrian traffic in the high school of 1,950 students was nearly halted.”
While some students may not realize it now, one day they’ll look back on this experience and realize it wasn’t the best of decisions. To their credit, it’s important to remember that senior pranks are a longstanding and far-reaching tradition encompassing schools across the nation. The fact that these students did the prank out in the open, front and center, also showed that they felt the prank would be harmless. Some are questioning why that point wasn’t given consideration when handing down the suspensions.
Was there a specific rule the students broke? Is there a policy that has the punishment of suspension articulated for a “disturbance?”
School administration may not realize it now, but one day, they’ll too look back on this situation and realize they could have made a better decision. Could the administration have offered a warning? Could they have delivered the same message to the students by making them perform some type of community service? These are questions the school administration should be able to answer.