For local high schoolers, fall brings football season, homecoming and a host of traditions. Passed down from classes before them, some White Plains High School students have taken familiar toilet-paper pranks too far, locals say.
Tarisha Thomas, a White Plains resident, said last Monday night she found a group of high schoolers in her front yard with more than just toilet paper. She said the teenagers had urinated on her porch and yelled racial slurs at her as they ran off.
Thomas on Thursday met with the school’s principal, Andy Ward, who said the school, along with other Calhoun County schools, have dealt with the issue for years. The only problem, he said, is that it gets worse every year.
“What used to be a fun thing for kids, they’ve taken it too far in recent years with egging people’s cars and houses, shredding newspapers in yards and then everything with Ms. Thomas,” Ward said Friday morning.
Friday morning Thomas reached a reporter through text message, saying the teenagers had decorated White Plains High with toilet paper Thursday night.
“It’s an every-year thing,” Ward said. “I’ve been here six years, and four of those we’ve had the school rolled.”
Thomas and Ward each said their main concern is for students’ safety when entering others’ property.
“You never know whose yard you’re walking into,” Thomas said. “I don't want to see these kids get hurt. It’s just a matter of time before one of them gets killed.”
Ward said he met with students to explain the potential dangers they face when trespassing on residents’ property, but he said it didn’t seem to deter them.
“As principal of this school, I have no jurisdiction over what they do out in the community,” Ward said. “They’re not concerned that they could be shot. They’re 16 and 17 out on the roads at 1 or 2 in the morning — just that concerns me.”
As for Thursday night’s incident at the high school, Ward said, camera footage captured identities of students, as well as folks Ward said he didn’t know. He said the strangers present show the broadness of the issue.
“This isn’t just a White Plains thing,” Ward said.
Thomas met with sheriff’s deputies on Thursday to discuss the issue, where she learned similar complaints have come from across the county in Alexandria, Weaver and Piedmont, she said. Attempts to reach the sheriff Thursday and Friday were unsuccessful.
“No one else has taken it this far because they’re seeing it as ‘just in fun,’” Thomas said. “And they won’t take it seriously until someone’s shot or hurt.”