UAE: Senior Prank Day may not be an official school event, but students in the UAE have learned to make the best of it over the years.
The day is popular across American schools, where students – mainly seniors – prank their teachers and other faculty members a few weeks before graduation.
The pranks could be lighthearted and some end up being extreme, where students get suspended or even expelled. Some classic ones include flooding the gymnasium floor with water, filling the hallways with sand and setting rat traps in classrooms. Some schools really discourage Senior Prank Day, while others prepare for the worst.
In the UAE, students across different schools have adopted Senior Prank Day and spoke to Khaleej Times about some of their most memorable pranks on faculty. Most of them aren’t as extreme as ones that make international headlines – none that we know of so far, at least.
Arun Sinnamari, a student in Fujairah, had his teacher arrested by the campus security over false accusations that he had stolen a motorbike – all in the name of a senior prank.
“One of our best pranks was when the seniors had our principal arrested with the help of our school security and we recorded it all. The officer managed to convince the principal that his motorcycle was stolen property and that, since he was claiming ownership of it, he would have to go to the station in handcuffs to answer to the cops,” Sinnamari said.
Another prank he pulled along with his senior class was when they turned one of his school hallway into a beach, a ‘classic’ prank. “We set up huge tree branches and plants all over the hall and we even installed working fountains. We blasted music and set up umbrellas and beach chairs. None of us went to class all day – we just enjoyed our-selves with kiddie pools and a volleyball/badminton net,” he said.
Another Dubai student, Angelica Smith (name has been changed as she will be carrying out her senior prank next week), wants to try something “funny”.
Smith and her peers are going to roast her teacher in front of the entire school body. “My grad class is really set on not doing anything harmful or hurtful to the school or teachers, but something funny. We have a decoy where we give each teacher a cupcake and the icing will basically stain their teeth and then they’ll think our prank is over. The next day, at the Sunday assembly, we are going to hijack the AV system and instead of the PowerPoint, we are going to play a roast song video of our teachers and stuff about our school,” she said. “While this is happening, all the seniors are going to cover the teachers in silly string.”
After the teachers and students return to class, they plan to set the alarm clocks in the school ceiling to go off in six classrooms.
Senior pranking seems to have come of age in the UAE.
There are light pranks that faculty members have a laugh over. Then, there are the remote few that can get students into a lot of trouble.
Dubai student Angelica Smith (name changed), shared an old senior prank from her school that went horribly wrong. Six of her peers were expelled a day before their graduation due to their vile senior prank. “They broke into school after-hours and spray painted the walls; then, in the old VP’s office, they spread their own faeces over the walls and her desk,” she said.
A similar prank had been carried out in another Dubai school a couple of years ago, where the four students were nearly arrested for breaking into school, urinating on their principal’s jacket and filling the gymnasium with fire hydrant foam. Besides the few extreme pranks, there are many others that teachers call memorable. Rory Galvin, head of secondary at the Uptown School, remembers a few pranks students at his former school had pulled.
“Being a relatively new section of the school, the idea of a senior prank has not yet taken off at Uptown; however, I have experienced senior pranks in some of my other postings,” he said.
“The old reliables like hiding alarm clocks in the ceilings and air conditioners and having them go off at intervals throughout the day are always good fun.
“The principal at this school I worked at came in one morning to find his whole office wrapped in cling film, from the doorway, to his computer, office furniture, the works. One of my favourites is from a school in the US where the seniors hired a Mexican mariachi band to follow the principal around all day. A lot of thinking went into that one.”
(Rebecca Coward, Student Counsellor GEMS Wellington Academy – Al Khail)
As the Student Counsellor at GEMS Wellington Academy – Al Khail, I strongly advocate the wellbeing of our students. Working with students, the pressure and stresses that students feel nowadays in an ever-changing world are clear to see.
I have found that in order to help students to face these pressures and achieve academically, it is important to create a strong sense of community and promote positive wellbeing in schools. Incorporating different events and activities in school such as special theme days, school trips, non-uniform days, fun days, and extracurricular activities (ECA) help enrich school life, enable students to work together and express their individuality. This creates a healthier, more social, high-spirited and positive atmosphere within the school.
School trips are a great way to learn outside of the classroom but, they also have a significant effect on wellbeing and sense of community. They give students a chance to build stronger bonds with fellow classmates, by being able to spend time in small groups, observing, chatting and learning about each other. I have found students who have be-come more positive and happy about school benefit greatly from the experiences they have had on school trips. A Year 5 student said, “I loved all our school trips, I made new friends from different classes who I now play with at break-time every day.
Taking part in extra-curricular activities (ECAs), aids student’s whole development, as they help to develop a well-rounded, socially skilled and overall healthier student. In-creasing their confidence, self-esteem, motivation, improving time-management and organisation, and importantly helping to reduce any stress or worries that students may be facing, which in turn impacts positively on their academic achievements. Students al-so experience a heightened sense of belonging within the school community, developing life-long friendships with their peers and learning important teamwork skills. The skills that students develop through participating in ECA’s benefits students throughout their lifetime. Some of our Year 7/8 students commented “I love ECA’s as they make me happy,” “I feel like I can get rid of any stress from the day by going to my ECA’s and love spending more time with my friends after school.
It is important that the achievements and hard work of students are celebrated and recognised throughout the year. This can be done by holding school fun days, where these events can help students to feel appreciated, a part of the community, improve self-confidence and creates important memories.
This year, we also held a ‘prom’ for our first Year 11 students. One Year 11 student had this to say, “I was involved in helping to organise our prom and it really helped give me something to focus on outside of the stress of exams. It was so much fun and a great way to celebrate all the hard work we have put in over the last two years and spend time with our friends; it’s a night I will remember forever.
Life is too short to be always serious. While chemistry class is to be taken seriously, we thought our teacher took life too seriously, much like the subject she taught. We planned to lighten her up and put a smile on her face. On her birthday, we contributed to make a portrait of her. smiling. We were glad because from that day, we never had a dull chemistry class.”
(Shreyasi Dhiren Dutiya, ASPAM Indian International School Sharjah)
Days like the senior prank day are important because it gives students the opportunity to let loose and have some fun. They spend most of the days studying and taking exams: this day lets them have some fun. Though I don’t think the pranks have to be something extreme, where it lands students in trouble or damages school property, it could be something light and fun. Maybe teachers should also have a prank day, where they prank students. There have been viral videos of teachers pulling April Fool’s Day pranks on students.
Hamad Ismail, University graduate
It’s (senior prank day) not very popular here in UAE, among the Indian schools. It’s an interesting concept and we would love to have something like that. It’ an opportunity to dress up and to have fun. During our hectic academic schedules, such small occasions are the ones most of us look forward to but miss as we do not have such celebrations in our schools. We celebrate our graduation day in whatever ways we can enjoy.
(Sreelakshmi. V, Our Own English School Sharjah)
© Khaleej TimesMay 2018