Originally created 06/04/98

Lakeside seniors admit to vandalism

When the last final exam is over Thursday, most Columbia County high school seniors will likely race to the lake for the traditional post-school party. But not 14 Lakeside High School seniors.

They will spend their last day atoning for Monday's senior prank, which school officials say crossed the line into criminal behavior.

The 14 students responsible for the shaving cream, toilet paper and motor oil mess spread over school grounds early Monday morning came forward to admit their wrongdoing Wednesday before classes began, said Principal Julius McAnally.

"They all came in at about 6:30 and met with me and one of the other administrators and our safety officer," Mr. McAnally said.

In addition to the vandalism, dead animal carcasses and gun targets were left in the parking spaces of Mr. McAnally and Associate Principal Joe Impink.

Mr. McAnally said he was certain school officials had identified all the students responsible.

"We have met with all the students that were involved," he said. "They have given a personal apology to some of us in the administration, and they are writing a letter of apology for the student body, faculty and staff that will be read over the intercom (this) morning."

The students also will have to clean up the remaining mess and perform a few days of community service at the school as part of their punishment, Mr. Impink said. "I don't think they are happy campers."

The students will, however, be allowed to graduate, Mr. McAnally said, declining to reveal their names because of a sheriff's investigation into the incident.

The names of those involved will be made available as soon as investigators complete interviews with the students, said Sheriff Clay Whittle.

"The decision to prosecute has been left in the hands of Principal McAnally," Sheriff Whittle said.

While he hopes the students will continue to cooperate with authorities and complete their punishment, Mr. McAnally said he has not ruled out pressing criminal charges.

"If one of the students does not do what they're supposed to do, then obviously you know what's going to happen," he said.

Criminal charges would be misdemeanors, not felonies, Sheriff Whittle said.

Costs for repairs and cleanup are lower than originally estimated and are expected to fall below the $500 threshold required under state law to make an act of vandalism a felony.

"When we totaled everything up, we came up with $385.42," Mr. McAnally said.


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