This week, the focus has been on a senior bullying tradition that smacks of sexism at Ladue Horton Watkins High School. Seems that anonymous graduating seniors at Ladue Horton Watkins have been making disparaging remarks about senior female graduates for two decades or longer.
School officials have tried to shut down this misbehavior but efforts so far have failed. A parent in the district recently brought this to the attention of the school board to take decisive action.
Ladue has had a tradition, particularly of senior pranks going back to its earliest days in the 1950s. Sometimes, they bordered on the bizarre, much like we saw in National Lampoon's Animal House, a 1978 American comedy film directed by John Landis.
Here’s some of the crazier stuff that happened, though no one has ever brought a dead horse into the school with the help of John Belushi:
- Sometime in the late 1950’s/start of 1960s the seniors of LHS decided to go all out for a senior prank. Unbeknownst to school officials for a very long time, the seniors had painted in gigantic 12 foot block letters the name “Alcatraz” (as in prison) on the top of the roof. It seems that a dad flying home from a business trip first made the discovery. He called Principal Richard Stauffer saying: “Guess what’s painted on your roof.” Turns out, one of the painters was the son of the district’s athletic director. Parents had to pay to have the building re-roofed, and long term suspensions were handed out.
- In the middle 1980s, a cheerleader decided to use her hair spray on the carpeting of the student commons and light it with a match. Her parents got to purchase new flooring and she too went out on suspension.
- Later on, a kinder and more gentle prank was played. The senior class decided to put the school up for sale. They posted a listing with a local real estate company, with the sales pitch: “Large home with tennis courts, swimming pool, expansive dining area and room to grow” in the local papers. The phone rang off the hook for a while for this choice piece of property on Warson Road. That was a harmless prank at best.
Rivalries existed for years between neighboring schools, the likes of University City, Clayton, John Burroughs and Country Day School. Plenty of paint was splashed at entrance ways to rival opponent’s schools.
A rivalry with Maplewood in the early 60s got totally out of control. The Rams won a Friday football game with the Maple Leafs (yes they were the leafs in the 60s) on their home field. Seems MRH fans stoned the Ladue bus and hurled insults as the Rams fled the property. Ladue officials vowed no more night football would be played, and it wasn’t for decades.
The recent tradition of writing anonymous snarky sexist comments to senior women needs to be stopped right now. It is childish, boorish and bullying. It has no value and is totally distasteful. Those who think they might want to carry on this sordid tradition need to think twice before ever doing it again.