Nick Levine doesn’t know if the story is true, but it hardly matters. The story is Paul Bunyan-esque and part of folklore.
“I don’t know if this is true, but it is a good story,” said Levine, a 2007 graduate of New Canaan who went on to attend the College of Charleston in South Carolina. “Rumor has it that three pigs were let loose in the school and were labeled one, two and four.”
He’s right, it’s a good story, one that doesn’t need a punch line.
As graduating seniors say goodbye this month to high school and welcome their first summers before attending college or working in earnest, mischievous minds are dreaming up their pranks — to the frustration, disappointment and amusement of parents, faculty and administrators.
In some area schools, administrators seem to appreciate the creativity and humor in something befitting “Animal House.” “That is clever,” five-year principal Jeff Jaslow, not holding back a chuckle, said of the NCHS prank.
And in Greenwich, there's longstanding lore that cars have been the objects of desire when seniors were plotting their pranks - including decades ago when the present Town Hall was still the high school. Somehow - perhaps with some inside help - students dismantled a Volkswagen Beetle and reassembled inside.
Then in the 1980s, streaking was popular. First Selectman Peter Tesei recalls streakers who ran amok in the Student Center with nothing more than paperbags covering their identities, um, make that faces. (See video for both Tesei and Selectman Drew Marzullo's recollections of GHS senior pranks.)
Most area high schools don’t have a written policy about senior pranks, but there’s a tacit understanding between administrators and students: No damage and nobody gets hurt.
“It’s not an every year thing. There wasn’t anything organized this year. I’m just as glad we saw fit not to bother,” Jaslow said. “If I had my druthers, there would be no such thing as a senior prank. But, if you do it, do it in good taste. … Any thing that results in vandalism or puts kids in harm’s way is inappropriate.”
Some pranks are funny, such as the time Jaslow recalls automobile tires were placed over a flagpole. One tire for each year, and he thinks this was in 1979.
“I still haven’t figured out how they got them up there,” Jaslow said.
Another year, somebody put oil on a stairwell, which he said wasn’t smart, cool or funny.
Some are clever and even affectionate.
There was the time the students at took outgoing principal Timothy Canty’s car and placed it in the cafeteria. Obviously, the students had inside help.
“I’m guessing a member of my administrative team,” said Canty, who also said assistance was needed for students to gain access to his office, where one year it was wallpapered with post-it notes and another 50 alarm clocks went off at the same time.
We tease those we love, and that’s Canty’s take on such pranks.
“That’s my interpretation,” Canty said. “There’s a trust relationship involved there and I walked away feeling good about things.”
Such wasn’t the case with principal John Dodig, who is finishing his seventh year in that capacity.
There was the water balloon fight in the halls, which was wet and not very original. It was more an inconvenience to those who had to clean things up.
Six years ago, there was a rampage through the halls and a girl was trampled, but fortunately not injured. Another year a group of seniors marched through the halls and into the parking lot and an impromptu car parade took place with the inevitable leaning out the windows and horn honking.
Things got out of hand.
“A teacher called the police,” Dodig said. “Thank God they didn’t come. People were looking at me to do something. Some people wanted me to punish the kids. I felt terrible. I went home thinking, `Why should I go home feeling my time as a principal is diminished?’ “
Things are different now.
The kids run their ideas through Dodig. He had no problem giving the OK for students to wallpaper the assistant principal’s office in tin foil.
Then there was the mock running of the bulls, when a group of football players dressed up in bull costumes and chased a group of students down the halls to the sounds of Spanish music.
The scene was even videotaped.
“It was a terrific prank,” Dodig said. “No one got hurt, there was no damage, and I didn’t feel like a fool.”