Vandalism to baseball fields, new track prefaces senior prank season

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Anna Myers

Security cameras caught ten students breaking into campus and vandalizing the new track and baseball fields on Apr. 10. Vandalism to the campus is common during the end of fourth quarter when senior pranks are being planned and carried out.

As the school year reaches its end, complications begin to rise to the surface at the hands of an event: senior pranks. Senior pranks have progressed throughout the years, ranging in severity, but there has been a common theme involving vandalism, where students over the years have taken items like spray paint to stain surfaces of the school. 

On Apr. 10, at approximately 9:30 p.m., an unidentified group of ten students trespassed onto the campus. They split into two groups, “half going between the ball fields and the other half going towards the home side gates of the football field,” School Resource Officer Jesse Allen stated. The group that went to the baseball fields forced their way into the baseball storage shed, breaking the handle, and stealing the spray paint, where they met with the other group once more and used the spray paint on the fields and newly built track. Principal Dan Serrano also mentioned that the vandals “may or may not be students from [Perry],” but he does not believe that they were Perry students. 

Damage to the baseball shed door and repainting the newly resurfaced track amount to an expensive consequence to this vandalism. 

“[They tagged] the baseball field, our dugout a little bit, sidewalk, and then the track. Brand new track. It’s brand new, I mean they did a really nice job with that track,” baseball coach Damien Tippett stated. “The district came out and power washed it and I don’t buy top of the line spray paint for baseball, so I think that probably helped that they were able to power wash it right off.”

The spray paint stored in the baseball shed is used to consistently mark the bases and home plates so that the players can keep track of where to go both during practice and actual games. While the damage to the baseball field has been power washed, the broken handle is going to be an additional cost. 

“They kicked it [the door] and pried our door knob off and they kept kicking and kicking until it came off its hinge…they broke in, they did some serious damage to our doors,” Tippett said. “We’re hoping the district will help us out with that [the cost].”

I think there needs to be more accountability. Suspensions, expulsions, you know whatever, I think we as a school and as a district probably need to be a lot harder on people.”

— Damien Tippett

Expenses are not limited to fixing the damage, punishment for vandalism is also expensive for students if they are caught. 

Allen noted that, “the punishment does vary but is based on the severity of the vandalism.  In years past seniors have been caught tp-ing the campus and [punishment] was less severe than another group of seniors who spray painted messages on campus.” Seniors who are caught participating in an act of vandalism will also be unwelcome to walk at graduation and may have their diplomas withheld. 

School discipline is not where the punishment ends however. Serrano and Allen both reinforced that students who are caught in a destructive act of vandalism, like the break-in on Apr. 10, will be charged with felony criminal damage. If a student involved is 18, that felony charge would end up on their permanent adult record. Serrano stated that he “will always press charges if there’s destruction” involved in a senior prank. 

“I think we have a serious problem of accountability on this campus. I think people just feel like they can do whatever they want and that’s a shame because we have a great campus, we have no idea how lucky we are to have this campus and how the people here [are] working their tails off,” Tippett continued, “I think there needs to be more accountability. Suspensions, expulsions, you know whatever, I think we as a school and as a district probably need to be a lot harder on people because too many little slaps on the wrist aren’t doing anything when they catch these people.”

In order to pull off a safe senior prank, seniors can actually work and plan with administration. Serrano said that, in regards to senior pranks, “Some of them are, you know, fun and harmless but some of them are across the line.”

If there is a senior prank in mind, make sure to walk through these thoughts: does it cause damage, will it cause serious harm to anything or anyone on campus, is there a possibility you can get into immense amounts of trouble because of your prank. If the answer is yes to any of these, then there is a huge chance that it is not a good idea. 

Vandalism continues to be an issue on campus, the problem only amplifying during senior prank season, but with established consequences, the administration can only hope that the problem will decrease.