Not-so-harmless pranks: Highlands High School’s experience with vandalism

     Over the past few months, Highlands High School has seen a surge of acts of vandalism. 

     The rise in acts of vandalism can be tied back to a Tik-Tok trend that went viral across American schools. This trend was coined ‘devious licks,’ where students would damage, steal, and destroy school property, specifically in bathrooms for internet fame. 

     Although Tik Tok has officially banned the hashtag ‘devious licks,’ which sends viewers a community guidelines message when they search up this phrase, these acts of vandalism have persisted among many schools, HHS included. Here at Highlands, there have been instances most recently over the past month. 

     According to Senior Class President KJ Toole, she has many friends from other schools who have had everything in the bathrooms stolen. 

     “It goes to show how impressionable social media has become to our society and just how rapid these trends spread. That scares me quite a bit.”

     Highlands High School Principal John Darnell has tried to get out in front of the issue, monitoring bathrooms and sending out announcements over their knowledge about these actions. 

     So the question that many are asking is why are students participating in these actions. 

     According to Darnell, he believes that students may be vandalizing to fit in or due to peer pressure. 

     “In my experience in high schools, students think it’s funny. It’s kind of one of those, ‘I dare you to do this,’ and then someone gets roped in.”

     One of these acts of vandalism and all-around shenanigans is the throwing of wet paper towels onto walls, which takes place in bathrooms and stairwells. 

    There has been a buzz created within the student body and the staff around schools, according to Toole. 

     “I think there is a delicate balance between harmless pranks and stealing or destroying school property.”

     Although these actions may seem like they are not hurting anyone, these acts of vandalism fall onto the hardworking custodians. 

     Many custodians get here at 6 o’clock in the morning to make sure the building is ready for students and staff to teach and learn. There are also second-shift custodians who get here at 3 o’clock once school is over with, making sure that the building is clean for the next day. 

     Vandalism in the bathroom usually occurs during mid-day, according to Highlands High School Custodian Guy Ponzer. 

     When acts of vandalism take place, they’re not able to do their normal job, and instead, they’re having to take time to clean up after students’ actions. The custodians are the hardest working group at school, according to Darnell.

     Punishments for these types of disobedience can range from a verbal reprimand to more serious measures if restitution is involved. 

     According to Toole, it is important to recognize that these acts of vandalism are the last thing the school should be dealing with when trying to regulate students during a pandemic. 

     Due to Highlands’ reputation of success and excellence in schools, these acts of vandalism create an upset between staff and students, according to Ponzer. 

     “I’ve worked in other schools and I think Highlands is a great place to work at. Students don’t need to do anything to take away all the good things that happen here at Bluebird Nation.”