Southern Lehigh High School maintenance workers got quite the surprise Tuesday morning when they found 17 seniors sleeping in tents inside the school courtyard.
The students got into the secured courtyard by using ladders to climb over the building Monday night. They set up camp and waited for the morning.
The whole thing was intended to be a senior prank but the administration wasn't amused. The students were suspended for five days.
Two students who weren't in on the camping prank, e-mailed The Morning Call to tell them what happened. They were suspended for using school computers for "non-educationa"l purposes.
“The punishment has nothing to do with the expression; it has to do with the unauthorized use of a school computer,” said District Solicitor James Bartholomew.
They were allowed back in school Thursday after serving only one day of their five-day suspension.
“I am just glad school is allowing me back and dropping the charges,” said one of the students, whose name was withheld by The Morning Call.
The camping seniors remained suspended, prompting protests. The punishment for three students included losing their National Honor Society membership.
The students protested the administrator’s punishment on Friday morning standing outside for an hour in the pouring rain.
“Yes, the kids were wrong in what they did,” said a father of one of the suspended campers, Rich Ryan. “Does it really deserve this level of punishment?” he said.
“We have the right to assemble, just like the teachers do when they strike,” said a senior, Kyle Pochek. “They try to get us to shut our mouths, but it’s doing the opposite,” he said.
“There was no damage, no illegal substances involved, no horsing around. They simply set up tents, ate food that they picked up, went to sleep and the next morning the police were there,” said Ryan.
Upper Saucon Township police will recommend that the pranksters perform community service or participate in alternative programs rather than face more serious punishment.