The planning and execution of senior pranks is an American tradition which serves as both a pressure reliever for graduating students and an exercise in tolerance by school staff and faculty. There have been any number of creative senior pranks performed over the years, many of which have ended with misdemeanor criminal charges, suspension of senior privileges and a prominent write-up in local newspapers. One student's idea of a practical joke can be a maintenance crew's idea of vandalism, so great care must be taken not to cross the line.
Some common senior pranks target the campus itself, from the generous application of toilet paper to school property to the complete removal and/or rearrangement of chairs and desks. Some senior pranksters have been known to move all of the classroom furniture to the roof, to the football field or even the parking lot. The class year may be spelled out in concrete on the lawn, or even using the official state flower. Since it is technically illegal to dig up an official state plant, the school may have little choice but to live with the impromptu display of class pride.
Other senior pranks involve the creative, if morally questionable, use of animals. One legendary senior prank requires pranksters to obtain three animals, typically pigs or chickens. Each animal is marked with either a 1, 2 or 4 and then released into the school building after hours. The real entertainment begins with the fruitless search for animal #3.
Some seniors have been known to place goldfish in the school's swimming pool or toilets, while others have allegedly led a cow up several flight of stairs overnight. Since cows cannot walk down steps, getting the cow out of the building is generally a logistical nightmare.
Bringing multiple items to school is another popular concept for senior pranks. Releasing thousands of ping-pong balls, super bounce rubber balls or marbles down school hallways, especially as a coordinated effort, can be a memorable prank. Placing partially filled paper cups upside-down in the hallways is another classic senior prank. Removing the cups is nearly impossible without spilling the contents all over the floor.
Placing alarm clocks in lockers and setting them to go off at two minute intervals is another classic prank. Some seniors have been known to place a marble in their palms just before receiving their diplomas during graduation ceremonies. The principal receives a surprise with each handshake.
Seniors may also park their cars in a tight formation around the campus, forcing students and faculty to maneuver around the maze. The faculty parking spaces may also be spray-painted with fake handicapped parking symbols, courtesy of some seniors armed with blue paint and a stencil.
While some senior pranks target faculty and staff, others are reserved for the freshman class. Selling unnecessary elevator passes or keys to a non-existent swimming pool are common practical jokes played on ninth graders by outgoing seniors. Obtaining a copy of the official school letterhead can also lead to senior pranks such as sending failure notifications to parents of freshmen or informing parents that free condoms or other embarrassing items will be made available at an upcoming freshman dance.
Many senior pranks never survive the planning stage, and others do not exactly play out as well in reality as they sound on paper. Some senior pranks are sanctioned by the entire graduating class, but quite often they are the work of a few motivated seniors and some empathetic staff members. Many school administrators anticipate the execution of some relatively harmless practical jokes throughout the school year, but have zero tolerance for deliberate vandalism. This means that a good senior prank needs to be memorable and creative, but not based on wanton destruction of school property.