Walking and biking to school is an integral part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign to end childhood obesity. Yet, when 64 Michigan high school students took it upon themselves to replace the usual senior prank with a bike parade on the second to last day of school, they were suspended.
Talk about mixed messages.
The 2012 graduating class of Kenowa Hill High School wanted to do something different to celebrate the last day of school. Traditionally, the senior prank is a devious plot to embarrass school faculty or cause disruption for the rest of the student body. But instead of following the pack, these seniors decided they wanted to do something a little less destructive.
So, they planned their own group bike ride to school, complete with spirit wear and a police escort (you know, for safety). It seemed like a pretty awesome idea, and the mayor even showed up to hand out donuts. Unfortunately, when they arrived at the campus, their triumphant parade took a turn for the worst.
The school’s principal, who must be long overdue for a vacation, took offense at the harmless stunt and immediately sent all of the students home. She even went so far as to suspend them from a traditional year’s end celebration at the school and threatened to keep them all from walking at their graduation. One of the students caught the entire outburst on his cell phone, which must be extremely embarrassing for Principal Katharine Pennington.
Instead of commending her students for their creativity in coming up with an activity that is both memorable and healthy, Pennington chose to have an authoritarian freak out. Instead of encouraging the underclasses to make the bike ride a yearly and (gasp!) maybe even a daily tradition, she effectively squashed any desire to ever again use a bike for transportation to school.
Sources say that since the story aired on local news, and was picked up by bike-friendly blogs around the nation, the principal has apologized and the students will no longer be prevented from attending the party. It’s likely that her anger came not from concern about the students’ safety, but from hurt feelings about not being let in on the “prank.”