Me: So at your high school, senior year, some of the kids made a slip and slide?
J: Yeah… so basically, right by the cafeteria there’s this.. ramp? For some reason? And people would just (laughs) set up the slip and slide there and they got– I think they got like water, or maybe it was– no, I think it was water. And they just created this slip and slide and they all just went down it. And a lot of people recorded it on their snapchats but I did not partake, because I was a good student. And also, I did not run in those crowds, so I wouldn’t do something like that (laughs) so uh… I didn’t participate but I did see it happen. I think another thing people did was… I heard stories about people, like, setting like, baby chicks into the hallways (laughs) and letting them roam through the school, but I’m not even sure if that’s true. But I feel like I heard about that.
Me: So the slip and slide thing, it wasn’t like a slip and slide that you could buy? People just set up water and went down the ramp?
J: No, I think they set up a tarp, or some sort of rubber or something– but then they ran– I don’t know if it was water or… it was some sort of liquid or some sort of substance and then they all like ran through– they all dived down the ramp (laughing). It was like all the popular kids at my school, like all the jocks and whatnot.
My informant is a senior at USC as of the year 2021 and is from the same state as me (Iowa) in a city not too far from my hometown in the capital. He attended a public high school in a suburban neighborhood, where he witnessed this prank during his senior year. He expresses that he did not participate in the prank, as a certain “crowd” of students were the ones who initiated and participated in it. He explains that it was started by the “popular” kids at his school, who were mostly the student-athletes and other kids who were infamous throughout the school for pulling such pranks. He tells me that he recalls administrators bolting past him in the hallways, which he now realizes was in response to this prank. It is now a funny memory for him, though he was never one to participate in it.
This is a transcript of our conversation over zoom. My informant has been a mentor for me throughout the year, and this story came up during one of our bi-weekly meetings where we catch up with each other on life and school.
I like this story because it is something that I never got to experience. Unfortunately, my senior year of high school was cut short due to the pandemic, so the opportunity for a senior prank was slim. However, it’s nice to hear others’ stories because these pranks are almost always humorous and can get outrageous. I also feel that this senior prank is a good example of the liminal period. Because high school seniors, in their last stretch of high school, are in the process of transitioning from one identity to another, they are caught in a state of being identity-less. They are not quite high school students anymore, but they also have not assumed the identity of a college student, or have started a professional career yet. Being identity-less can bring great freedom, but also feelings of tension and stress. Pranks are thus a vehicle for relieving this stress. Creating a slip and slide in the middle of a hallway in the school is a clear example of a prank that can alleviate the stress of this transition while enjoying the rebellious freedom of finishing high school. Further, I also find the dichotomy of the participants and the observers in this story interesting. Rather than being a prank that all seniors partook in, the prank was mostly controlled by a group of students that are stereotypically thought of as more powerful than other students. This may suggest that the freedom to rebel may not be something that all students feel they possess. Despite this, all of the seniors enjoyed the prank whether they participated in it or observed it.