Next month, a group of Pendleton County High School graduates will host a Fun Day for area youth to raise money for the custodian staff and fire department. They'll also spend two days of their summer vacation helping clean up around the school.
This is the same group of 25 to 30 students who, a few weeks ago, broke into their school, scattered corn, straw and yarn, wrapped toilets in Saran wrap and tin foil and smeared Vaseline and shaving cream throughout the building. What started out as a planned prank of decorating some classrooms with balloons and streamers got "out of hand" the students and their Principal Tim Woodward say. The school's custodian described the result as "a mess, a total mess."
Classes were canceled the following day to allow time for cleanup.
Law enforcement isn't pressing charges, unless school system officials decide otherwise. Some parents think their children deserve a stern punishment.
Woodward decided against suspending the students, saying that would cause them to miss their graduation. Instead, he elected to impose "restorative discipline restitution" - hence the additional summer projects. This, he says, "actually teaches the student."
Had they been suspended from graduation, they may have felt remorse on that day or regret in years to come. They may even have quite a tale in explaining why they didn't get to attend the ceremonies. What they would be without is a lesson of value.
While many may not agree with Woodward's decision, it appears he is on the right track. There's no excuse for what the students did. It was simply wrong. Now, it's in their best interest and that of those who affiliate with them in the future to learn from their mistakes. It may even be something they can teach their children.