Halloween traditionally is a time of children dressing up in costume and playing innocent pranks.
So, may we suggest costumes for the six Thomson High School pranksters who stole and vandalized the Harlem High bulldog? How about a half-dozen day-glo orange vests?
High school pranks, especially those between rivals during football season, also have been a tradition for as long as there have been high schools. Some are clever, some are funny - and some are downright destructive.
The theft of Harlem's mascot last week, the day before the two schools met on the football field for Thomson's homecoming, qualified for all three. Swiping the $4,000 fiberglass bulldog and putting it on top of Thomson High was pretty clever. Painting it in Thomson's black and gold colors was funny - at least to Thomson fans.
But cracking the fiberglass and further damaging the statue by using hard-to-remove spraypaint, which the students (calling themselves the "Wal-Mart Mafia") also used to deface their own campus, was destructive - and crosses the line from high-school hi jinx to juvenile delinquency.
All of the students involved have been caught and at least to some degree have 'fessed up. Columbia County school officials are now trying to decide whether to press criminal charges, or to handle it with school discipline.
Here's a suggestion: Charge them all in juvenile court. None of the six will be saddled with a lifelong record. And if there is anyone who can be as creative and effective in sentencing as these pranksters were in their effort, it is Columbia County Juvenile Court Judge Doug Flanagan.
Fines and restitution are essential in such a case, but everyone knows more often than not that the parents are the ones who pay up. In Flanagan's court, these six are likely to also have to pay with their own sweat. Putting on orange vests to spruce up Harlem High would be a fitting punishment, as would taking away the license of the getaway driver.
These six would get a lesson about channeling their school spirit into more productive, and less destructive, channels. And future imitators would know there's an orange vest in their size, too.
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