The final year of high school is the time to make mischief. The most important class tradition is the senior prank, the chance for the graduating class to leave its mark on the school, figuratively or literally. As 2016 approaches, rumors of “literally pooping on Redwood” and trading places with Drake students circulate. Seniors know their short-term competition, including the Class of 2014’s roof-writing and the Class of 2015’s “Bring Your Dog to School Day,” but the prank tradition is decades old. It may take more than a simple senior stunt to compete with legends long-forgotten.
Roof-writing was not an original idea created by the class of 2014. In fact, this prank was started over three decades ago. “Late one night on the weekend of Homecoming a group of my friends and I climbed to the roof of Gus gym,” Tam alumnus Sandy Murray said. The group painted a message with 10 foot tall letters. “We painted ‘Alive in 85’ … We had to paint over 84.”
Other students could only guess at the identities of the artists because the graffiti group never talked of the incident at school. “We knew it was an expel-worthy offense,” Murray said. “Luckily no investigation and thus no repercussion… I guess, then, the administration wasn’t looking to stop the tradition.”
The risk hasn’t stopped a recent graduating class from continuing the tradition by writing the fading “014” atop Gus Gym.
The graduating class of 2011 wanted to display their love for the ganja. An anonymous source from the lass of 2011 said, “There were a lot of sailors on my sailing team in my group of friends, so they knew how to tie really good knots.” His group of friends wanted to replace the California Republic flag at Tam, but were unsure of what they wanted to erect in its place. “They were at a head shop or something one time, and there was this big, you know, stupid flag for 10 bucks and it was literally just Rasta colors and a weed leaf and the word ‘Marijuana’ underneath,” the source said.
The task of replacing the California state flag was straightforward, but required thorough planning because of the risk involved. The source was unfortunately unable to attend the prank’s execution. “The night they put it up, I was actually going to go, but my cousin was in town,” the source said. I didn’t really want him to get arrested.” The remaining group of about eight students split into four groups. “There were three cars positioned at all the possible ways you could drive to pass the flagpole… There was one person with the flag people who was ready on the phone in case anyone saw a cop or something so they could like take cover or whatever.” The sailors cut one line of rope on the flagpole to remove the California state flag. They hoisted their marijuana flag using the remaining rope. When the knot on the marijuana flag hit the top of the flagpole, it would tighten if pulled more.
There was no way to pull it down. The marijuana flag stayed up until the late afternoon, and the school scrambled desperately to take it down. “They literally had to bring in the fire department that came in and used one of their big extending ladders and a firefighter went up and had to cut it down with a knife.”
“None of the pranksters were caught, and thus, there was no punishment,” the source said. “I don’t necessarily think that the administration cared that much,” The source said. “I mean, it was pretty much like the next day nobody was even talking about it anymore. Maybe that’s just because we go to Tam and it’s the kind of school that wouldn’t get super offended by that.”
The beach-themed prank of 1984 brought Stinson Beach to the Tam campus. Tam alumna Claudine Murray talked about her own experience as she approached the plaza with the senior benches. “I don’t know how they got all the sand in there or what kind of trouble followed, but it was a highlight… [the plaza] was covered in sand like six inches to a foot deep and went all the way across,” Murray said.
The sheer description of the scene is impressive, considering that the senior bench plaza was much wider before Tam’s remodel. The ‘84 seniors went all out, installing beach balls and chairs, even dancing to Beach Boys music. “They were all in swimsuits with zinc on their noses,” Murray said. A day at the beach was refreshing for students and teachers alike.