Tag Archives: public high school

Senior ditch day

Main description:

AB: “Can you tell me about any traditions from your high school that stick out or seem special?”

DB: “Um, the only thing I can think of is senior ditch day. I don’t know if you wanna hear about that though, it’s kinda dumb.

AB: “Ditch day sounds great! Tell me about it.”

DB: “I mean. It’s what it sounds like. All the seniors ditch school, usually in one of the last weeks in second semester. It used to be that student council would decide when during secret meetings, but now we just have votes in secret Facebook groups. That’s what my year did anyway. Anyway. The teachers and school know about it of course, and it’s really funny seeing who’s cool with it and who’s not. Sometimes, teachers will be like, ‘Oh, I’m showing a movie that day, so I may forget to skip attendance, so hypothetically, I wouldn’t notice if say, half the class was gone, for some reason. Wink wink nudge nudge.’ But other teachers aren’t cool with it at all. They’ll like rant for several hours about how were seniors and should be responsible enough to go to school. Anyway, on ditch day, we all go to Tuna beach. You can only get there by taking this, like, super steep hike down, and we usually spend the night there, which means you’re hiking down on loose dirt on a steep hill with who knows how many pounds of food and stuff strapped to your back. That part isn’t fun, but the beach is super secluded and there’s places to make bonfires, which is why we go there. Anyway, you know what it’s like, lots of drinking, lots of drugs, a few hook-ups that usually cause drama. Oh I just remembered, there was this one girl my year who tried acid I think, but she was allergic to it and started having a reaction so the paramedics had to come get her, but they can’t carry her up the hike in a gurney so they have to take this, like, really long and windy private road down to the beach, and we were super scared because it took them a really long-ass time. Anyway. She survived. But it was super scary. Oh, I can’t believe I forgot… there was also another kid who couldn’t spend the night on the beach, so he drank as much as he could before hand and got alcohol poisoning and was really sick. That was happening at the same time as the acid-allergy girl, so. It was a really chaotic night. I guess they’re always like that.”

Informant interpretation:

AB: “Why is senior ditch day special to you?”

DB: “I mean, it’s the only time I ever did something rebellious in high school. Like actually rebellious, not just staying in my room all day watching TV rebellious.  I was also really proud of me and my friends for… for, ya know, not being a disaster. I mean, I threw up, but it was also my first night drinking, and it felt good to feel like I was becoming a college student.”

Personal interpretation:

Senior ditch day seems to be an important rite of passage for seniors at this high school, who may not have experimented with many substances before. While ideally this can be a safe place to experiment with alcohol and other substances likely to be encountered in college, it can also be quite dangerous because few people present have experience with substance-use and over-use.

High School Senior Prank

Main Piece:

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.