On May 24, four 18-year-old students from Glenelg High School were charged with hate crimes, after having vandalizing the walls, streets and sidewalks of the school. This graffiti included homophobic slurs, swastikas and racial slurs, including one that targeted the school’s African-American principal, Mr. David Burton.
Video surveillance showed the four students who defaced school property and were arrested later that day. In a written statement, Howard County Public School System Superintendent Dr. Michael Martirano said, “It is completely unacceptable, and actions of this nature will not be tolerated in Howard County. I know that many students and staff were troubled upon arriving at school this morning, and we are providing the necessary supports for anybody who needs them.”
According to the Baltimore Sun, one Glenelg student said, “Mr Burton has brought so many great changes to the school, and I can’t thank him enough, and it’s just so sad to see him attacked.”
Most students had seen the racial slurs before the staff removed them.
In an interview with WBAL, Glenelg Jeremy Davis, a student from Glenelg, said, “I was definitely disgusted. I don’t ever want to see this happen again.”
The graffiti came as a shock to the school, which had been eventful that day with graduation ceremonies and the girl’s lacrosse team becoming state champions. A similar incident took place in Prince George’s county where some students staged a fake school shooting for their senior prank. The fake school shooting took place at Bowie High School on May 15th, which resulted in a school evacuation and one student getting injured. Later that day an apology letter was issued by the principal of the high school, which informed the parents about what had occurred and how the principal and the police were handling the situation. What started as a senior prank has resulted in possible charges for these students.
An anonymous former teacher of Bowie High School discussed her knowledge and feelings about the topic. “They always do pranks, the senior class, but this prank just went a little too far. A couple boys from the soccer team and the student government decided that they were going to go in on the lower level and they threw firecrackers into the classrooms. They were armed with water guns.”
The teacher went on to explain what she knew about how the incident also introduced multiple safety concerns.
“One girl got second degree burns from the firecrackers… We [also] had a young lady that had an asthma attack and had to be taken to the hospital.”
Emily Birckhead, the student who was burned by one of the firecrackers admitted, “they lit something, and as they threw it, sparks were flying.” The student suffered second degree burns on her thumb and ear due to sparks flying up and hitting her.
According to reporters from Kansas City Star, Emily’s father, Steve Birckhead, said, “I don’t know what had to go through somebody’s mind to pull off a prank like this in this day and age, so close to Parkland and then two days later to have the shooting today down in Texas.”
Senior pranks have historically been a fun way for seniors to leave high school in style. Recently, however, these pranks have started to become more irresponsible and immature, and have damaged schools’ reputations. Pranks are meant to be jokes, but these 2018 senior pranks have been nothing short of derogatory and dangerous.