Any perception that Lawrence High School seniors were given carte blanche to run wild last week is erroneous, school administrators say. But the Senior Week tradition is being re-evaluated.
The actions of a few tainted a Lawrence High School senior class that for the most part behaved itself during last week's Senior Week, teachers and administrators said today.
Even so, LHS officials say they are going to review Senior Week and some changes may be coming.
The vandalism of school buses, the shooting of firecrackers at school and the trashing of LHS halls involved about 20 students out of a class of 570, said Mike Browning, dean of the senior class.
What's more, said LHS Principal Brad Tate, students involved in inappropriate behavior were punished.
Three seniors were suspended for vandalizing buses, and six students were suspended for bringing firecrackers to school. In both cases, the students were barred from Saturday's prom. The suspected bus vandals also have been barred from commencement ceremonies.
"I think it's important that people understand that we're not going to tolerate any of this stuff," Tate said. "We're taking a very tough stance on things around here. There's no 'boys will be boys' attitude."
Seniors decorated the school last Monday night under the supervision of LHS administrators. However, a small group of students who used baby powder and other inappropriate decorations had to choose between suspension or cleaning the surrounding neighborhood.
The students chose the latter. They did some neighborhood cleaning Thursday and are expected to do some more today.
The actions of a few reflected unfairly on the many students who didn't cause any problems, said Ron Lang, who teaches senior English at LHS. "I think of these few, the actions have been a little more extreme than in the past, and that really troubles me."
LHS senior Robert Harvey said he wasn't too happy about some seniors throwing eggs through the sun roof of his car. Other than that, he said, most senior activities at school were within reasonable bounds.
LHS senior Dustin Smith agreed that things like last Monday's watergun fights are harmless and that senior week should continue in the future.
"It's not fair to take something away if two or three people screw up," he said. "They're going to be punished for it."
Senior week involved three theme days -- camouflage day, '80s day, and dress-as-your-favorite-teacher day. The seniors' daily attire varied accordingly. About 300 seniors also took part in a cookout on the school grounds Thursday afternoon. Friday was skip day, a day seniors didn't go to school.
But Tate said the vandalism that accompanied senior week has moved officials to re-evaluate the tradition.
"I certainly anticipate some changes if not doing away with it," he said.
Tate said school administrators deserve some credit for reacting swiftly to the bus vandalism.
Sometime between 6 p.m. last Sunday and 6 a.m. last Monday, vandals drained oil from 41 buses at Mayflower Contract Services Inc., the bus company that contracts with the Lawrence school district.
School officials announced Wednesday that they had identified and suspended the vandals.
"In two days, we cleared that sucker up and took action," Tate said. "That doesn't happen very often in this town."
Lawrence Police Lt. Ed Brunt said a police report on the vandalism would be submitted to the Douglas County district attorney's office today. That office will then decide what charges should be brought against the students.
The vandalism caused an estimated $20,000 in damage, largely because oil-contaminated soil had to be removed.