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Did this Port Coquitlam grad prank go too far? Yes, says principal

What was the grad prank at your high school? Some Riverside Secondary students blocked several parking spaces with their vehicles, but their principal says there are better — and safer — ways to leave a legacy.

Riverside Secondary principal Jon Bruneau has seen his fair share of pranks by graduating high school students.

The Port Coquitlam administrator remembers a grad prank at a previous school where students sent crickets chirping and hopping down the hallway.

"I had them vacuumed up in 10 minutes," recalled Bruneau.

This week, Bruneau's job was even easier.

When 2022 grad students parked their vehicles in random spots throughout the school parking lot on Wednesday (June 15), blocking spaces, access and creating parking havoc, Bruneau simply threatened to call a tow truck.

Many of the cars sported 'N' stickers, and some were merely crooked while others blocked access completely.

"I say, 'I’m calling tow trucks,' and that usually does it and they return to normal right away." said Bruneau.

Grad pranks: problem or harmless fun?

Bruneau doesn’t want to seem like a kill joy — he grew up in the 1970s when he said pranks were invented.

But there could be unintended consequences — an accident, a disruption or worse if a student takes things too far.

"It’s a slippery slope," said Bruneau, who calls grad pranks "grad crimes" because of the potential havoc they can cause.

Still, the grad prank in the Riverside parking lot was seen by many as harmless fun.

A video posted to a Port Coquitlam social media page showed vehicles parked every which way.

Some commentators had a bit of a laugh.

"The Yuppies in the ‘80s used to always park their BMWs like that so you wouldn’t bump them," joked one poster.

"Now THIS is a cute and good humoured prank," said another.

As principal, Bruneau said he takes a serious tone to the prank and talks to the students about the potential consequences.

"I've come to expect this prank," said Bruneau, who said Riverside students are an "excellent group of kids."

So far, grad activities have gone without a hitch, Bruneau said, and the June 26 grad ceremony at Simon Fraser University (SFU) will be full of pomp and celebration.

The parking lot prank itself has become a bit of a tradition at the PoCo school.

Port Moody 2010 chicken prank a fiasco, inhumane

However, some pranksters can also get carried away.

One high school grad prank that occurred in the Tri-Cities over 10 years ago was notorious because it was also inhumane.

A group of graduating students at Heritage Woods in Port Moody — who would now be 30 years old — dumped close to two dozen live chickens in the school's main hallway during school hours.

It turned out to be a bit of a fiasco.

The chickens were traumatized and taken to the Coquitlam Animal Shelter after they were rounded up.

Bruneau said it's important for students to have lasting memories of their time at high school, but believes there are better ways to leave a legacy.

Nothing that School District 43 (SD43) administration also frowns on grad pranks, Bruneau said he prefer students to leave a "positive" legacy of their time at the school.

In previous years, students raised money for a bench at Settlers Park and a lighting board for the theatre. 

"If they want to leave a memory to the school, I try to encourage them to go the positive approach."

Meanwhile, the City of Port Coquitlam has posted online a number of ways to support local grads.

City hall will be lit up in high school colours and 'Congrats 2022' photo opportunities have been placed at three parks:

  • Blakeburn Lagoons 
  • Lions Park
  • Castle Park
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