Portage High School no longer allows pranks during Homecoming
Portage High School says toilet paper belongs in the bathroom.
Pranks on school grounds or anywhere else are no longer allowed during Homecoming week, which begins Sunday and concludes next Saturday.
The school had previously allowed such pranks on school grounds as toilet-papering trees and marking of sidewalks and windows, but only with the mutual understanding that students would clean it up after. Pranks in the community had been allowed as long as recipients knew about them ahead of time.
But the school, Portage Police Department and Columbia County Sheriff’s Office developed a plan and expectations promoting safety and respect, Principal Robin Kvalo said.
“We don’t want any incidents where students put themselves or others in harm’s way — and we don’t want to see any trespassing, vandalism or harassment of any kind,” Kvalo said.
Specifically, the school discourages the marking of any piece of property and discourages unsafe road practices including excessive speeding, the unsafe passing of other vehicles, driving without headlights, driving too close to other vehicles and students piling into truck beds.
Students were made aware of behavior expectations during a school assembly held Tuesday.
“It’s a reset,” Kvalo said. “We’re getting back to what Homecoming is supposed to be about: welcoming back alumni, supporting the football team, school activities and spirit.”
Last year’s school-related Homecoming activities were “fabulous,” Kvalo said, but a number of incidents marked “the straw that broke the camel’s back” and led to the Homecoming changes.
Residents may report incidents anonymously by contacting the high school or law enforcement. Students involved in non-school-sponsored activities could be subject to criminal charges, suspension from school, being banned from Homecoming activities and the revocation of certain school privileges, among other consequences, Kvalo said.
Homecoming activities begin Sunday with two events open to the public — “After-Shave Volleyball” at 5 p.m. in the high school gym and “Powder Puff Football” at 8 p.m. at Bob Mael Field. A lip sync contest held at 8 p.m. Wednesday in the high school auditorium is also open to the public.
The cost to attend these events is $2 or $1 paired with a canned food item.
This year’s Homecoming theme is “Down on the Farm,” providing the basis for float and banner decorations, among other activities held at the school, Homecoming organizers and teachers Elizabeth Hanson and Sarah Pulliam said. Classes of students compete for the most spirit points in activities such as tug-of-war held throughout Homecoming Week — the winners ultimately earning an orange and black Spirit Stick.
“Seniors want it the most, of course, and it’s largely ceremonial,” Hanson said of the prized pole, “but it’s important to them.”
Friday activities open to the public include the pep rally in the high school gym at 10 a.m., the parade along East Slifer Street at 2 p.m. and the football game at Bob Mael Field at 7 p.m.
The Homecoming dance is from 8 to 11 p.m. Saturday in the high school gym.