Illustrations by Priya Reddy.
While much of the humor these days is centered around the viral culture of the internet, there are other forms of getting a laugh on campus. Between selling teachers’ cars and switching out library signs, MVHS has its own unique pranking culture. While current pranksters speak to the present, administrators Deborah Mandac and Calvin Wong can speak to the past MVHS senior pranks.
“[The appeal of senior pranking] is trying to get away with something as your last hooray,” Mandac said, “to go out with a bang [and be]defiant.”
“Project Innocence.” That’s the name of their secret two-member Facebook group. In this, both MVHS students document and vlog their “little endeavors” of the harmless pranks they have pulled on peers, parents and even librarians.
“We used keep to ourselves and not really venture out there, but it’s fun to do something a little rebellious,” Judy said. “Now that I have a little bit more free time on my hands, I thought, maybe [I could] make this school represent not a place of just where you go to work all the time, but somewhere that can bring a sense of thrill or excitement into your day.”
The two have pulled minor pranks on the librarians, but admit they are scared of going too far. So far, they have switched out the library supplies sign with a new one, taken down the library printer sign, replaced the book drop-in sign with one that says “trash goes here” and switched the library sign-in sheet with the name of one of the librarians, Laura Utile, written all the way down the sign-in sheet.
“I find it hypocritical that the library is so strict [and]have these rules that are sometimes incredibly arbitrary,” Jill said. “So we’re just trying to poke fun at how strict it is, but we keep it harmless.”
Librarian Tricia Palomino didn’t know that the pranks were happening until we asked her about it. She had noticed some strange things, like the printer signs getting mixed up, but wasn’t sure what the source was. Curiously, she actually thought the Laura Utile sign was a misprint on her part.
Judy said when she grows up, she would like to look back at the videos and posts in “Project Innocence” and reflect on her teenage years.
“I like to document my immaturity,” Judy said. “I do a lot of bluffing. I pretend I’m, this intellectual person, but I’m not.”
But through all of the pranks, Judy and Jill stay by each other’s side, consulting one another and sharing the thrills.
“Most of our endeavors,” Jill said, “we do together.”
A strange smell wafted out into the academic quad. Something was fishy.
When Calvin Wong was a student at MVHS, students bought 100 pounds of raw fish and stuff it in lockers across the campus.
“The thing that made it worse, they bought locks too,” Wong said. “So at first they thought, let’s just clean out the lockers that we see a fish carcass in, but they didn’t do a mandatory locker check like ‘everybody come and open your locker, let’s see what’s in it.’ So when summer or spring came around and it got a little warmer, there were still fish rotting in the lockers. So it would literally sucked to sit in class.”
A decade or more ago, students decided to carry out a prank which shut down practically the entire school. As teachers went to put the key into their classroom door locks, they were met with a layer of super glue barring their entry. Practically every lock on campus had been glued shut, meaning that the day couldn’t start until everything got unglued. What’s more, the cost to fix the locks was five figures.
“You are looking at $40,000 to rekey a school,” Deborah Mandac said.
Another year, students took out individual ads in the newspaper, placing many of the teachers’ cars on sale and giving a number to call that went to the front office. The office phone was flooded with voicemails of people inquiring about different cars they saw in the newspaper listing.
“Teachers were [puzzled]like I didn’t put my car up for sale,” Wong said.
In Wong’s senior year, his class spread mayonnaise over all for the bleachers on the upper field. Their prank however backfired when the administration had to cancel the rally outside.
“My class was dumb,” Wong said. “I did not have a Farewell rally.”