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Officials: Pranksters go too far at GSHS

Lynn Burton
Staff Writer

Vandals struck inside Glenwood Springs High School Thursday night in a senior prank that officials say “went too far.”

Damage included the disappearance and apparent destruction of the larger-than-life-size papier mache basketball player that hung in the school’s lobby.

“It was just a fun piece,” said art teacher Anne Brooks. “Quite a few people put in many hours on it.”

The suspects, believed to be seniors, also tore down Wall of Fame photographs that honor alumni.

They spread dirt from several 50-pound bags of potting soil all over the carpeted floors, broke the classroom bell system and some light fixtures, smeared all the school’s door handles with Vaseline, knocked over trash cans in two classrooms, and scattered 60 used tires throughout the school.

“They (the tires) were everywhere,” said assistant principal Sonya Hemmen. “In the bathrooms, the lobby and elevator.” It took three truckloads to remove the tires.

Hemmen said the school is offering a $400 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the perpetrators.

“We have a couple of suspects,” Hemmen said.

Glenwood Springs Police Lt. Lou Vallario said the perpetrators face possible charges of burglary, trespassing, criminal mischief and theft.

“It’s typical for seniors to do pranks, but this time it went too far,” Vallario said. “This isn’t acceptable by any means.”

Hemmen said custodians discovered the damage when they arrived at the school at 6 a.m. Friday morning. There were people in the school until 10 p.m. the night before, so Hemmen figures the vandals struck sometime between those hours.

Vallario said police haven’t determined how the vandals got into the building, and there was no forced entry. He said police think the suspects entered through a rear door on the football field side of the building, which is secluded.

“Not a lot of people would see them there. It’s pretty hidden,” Vallario said.

Anyone who might have seen teenagers driving around Thursday with dozens of used tires in one or more pickups are asked to call Glenwood Springs police at 945-8566.

Hemmen placed the total damage at about $1,500, including cleanup costs.

Most of the costs will be to replace the classroom bell system, at $1,087. Hemmen said the money could have been better spent. “That’s enough to buy a computer,” she said.

Hemmen said every graduating class is “a little spirited” this time of year, “but we didn’t expect this.”

“We thought this class would try to walk out respectful of the school and proud of themselves,” she said.

“A small group, we allege, isn’t feeling that way,” she added.

Hemmen said if the school determines the suspects are graduating seniors, there’s a chance they won’t be allowed to take part in the May 25 graduation ceremonies.

“We will also arrest and prosecute them,” she said.

Friday was the day of the regional track meeting in Grand Junction, so many students were not in class. Hemmen said school officials will actively start questioning students next Monday.

Brooks said the papier mache basketball player was created last year by graduating seniors as a gift to the school. Students even rounded up a 1960s Demon uniform to outfit the player.

Brooks said the basketball player’s arm was torn off and thrown up in a tree. As of Friday afternoon, she didn’t know the whereabouts of the rest of the player’s body.

The basketball player’s destruction struck a nerve with several people at the school.

One teacher told Brooks she could accept Vaseline on doorknobs, “but the (vandalized) basketball player made her mad.”


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