‘End the year on a happy note’

By CARLY WANNA, Gazebo Editor

Eagle Halo
Special thanks to art instructor Kristy Edwards for her assistance with the artwork.

Everybody has heard of the Greatest Senior Prank of All Time.

It’s the one where the students seamlessly pulled off the impossible in an blend of grace and wit, capping off their senior year with a bang.  

But, the lesser known side of the Greatest Senior Prank of All Time is the aftermath.  

How it went wrong. How thousands of dollars of damage were done or how a student got banned from graduation.  

Stratford avoids the problem entirely by hosting an annual senior picnic in lieu of a risky senior prank.  

Head of School Dr. Robert Veto affirmed the continuation of this tradition at a recent upper school assembly.

Veto’s ban of senior pranks derives from two main factors: pranks gone wrong at other schools and a prank gone wrong at Stratford the year before he arrived.

The prank from the Stratford Class of 2008 halted teaching for half a day and left a sour tone for the end of the year.  

“I’ve had some really negative experiences at other schools with pranks that have gone over the top,” said Veto. “Seniors try to outdo the previous year’s prank. At some point judgement lapses, and you end up dealing with permanent physical damage to the school property.

During his first year as head of school in 2008-09, Veto discussed the issue of senior pranks with the graduating class. He said if they could come up with a prank mild enough to be approved, they could do it.  Otherwise, there would be no prank.

The seniors concocted plan. Veto got over the intercom at approximately 11:30 a.m. of the seniors’ last day to announce that all seniors were dismissed.  To the surprise of the faculty, the seniors left class and reported to the softball field for festivities.  A cookout and games greeted the graduating class at the field.

The picnic was so successful that the next year’s class asked to simply have the picnic again. There was no prank. There was no surprise to the faculty.  It was simply a picnic.

On the seniors’ last day of school on Friday, the class will head to the soccer or football field for festivities.  Senior parents will greet them with a cookout and activities such as slip-and-slides. Faculty occasionally visit the festivities but, for the most part, the picnic is reserved for seniors, giving the class a sweet send-off before starting senior projects.  

Since the installment of the picnic, small pranks have been approved by the administration and carried out by the students. For example, the class of 2015 hid the book bags of underclassmen during lunch.

Additionally, the administration has prohibited “Senior Ditch Day” from the agenda.  Veto noted that ditch days can open a slew of liability issues.  At Veto’s previous school, a student broke his neck during a senior ditch day. The school, although not directly involved in the accident, was sued for approving the skip day in which the student was hurt.  

“I would rather end the year on a happy note,” said Veto.