Free State High School students on their way to the last day of classes before winter break Thursday were confronted with an unusual scene: two live roosters painted green and chained to trees along the school parking lot.
Feathers also were seen around the school's Firebird statue, Free State senior Mitch Morrow said.
The prank occurred the same day of the Lawrence High-Free State basketball game, a day that fans of both teams have circled on their calendars. Lawrence High ended up winning the game 43-42.
Julie Boyle, Lawrence school district communications director, said Free State had filed a police report regarding the chained, spray-painted birds.
Authorities said the animals appeared to be unharmed.
Lawrence police Sgt. Dan Ward said there were no suspects in the incident, but he encouraged anyone with information to call police.
Free State sophomore Tyler Arachtingi was one of the first to notice the green roosters.
"It was tightly bound by both legs," said Arachtingi, who picked up one of the birds. "Its legs were green."
Arachtingi walked into the school to tell friends what he'd seen. Soon, about 50 teens had gathered around the tree.
"Word spreads fast in high school," he said.
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Sophomore Nash Riggins heard about the rooster story as it made its way around the school.
"I guess LHS is really serious about the rivalry," Riggins said. "I hope Free State beats LHS in basketball, but I'd never take it that far."
Lawrence High School principal Steve Nilhas said his school was aware of the situation, but didn't know a lot about what happened.
"We don't condone people vandalizing property. We don't condone cruelty to animals, but we continue to investigate," Nilhas said. "We know it's a rivalry, but we want to promote a healthy response."
Lawrence High senior Taylor Renfro said the rivalry is natural.
"For the most part, I think it's healthy," Renfro said. "More power to them when they pull pranks like this."
If the pranksters turn out to be Lawrence High students, Nilhas said the school would determine what policies had been violated and take appropriate disciplinary measures. That could include referring the matter to police as a cruelty to animals case.
Cruelty to animals is punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $5,000 for the most severe cases.
Nilhas said the school resource officers from both schools were involved in the investigation.
"There are laws that have been violated," Nilhas said.
Free State assistant principal Mike Hill declined to comment on the incident.
This is not the first prank resulting from a Lawrence-Free State game this year. Three LHS students broke into Free State and stole two state championship banners before the October football game. Those students were suspended from school.