The last few days of school can be an adrenaline rush for both teachers and students as everyone makes plans to enjoy the summer break. But they can also be filled with mischief as outgoing students try to think up new ways to make their final moments in school memorable.
Such was the case at North Clay Middle School this year.
According to school officials, annual rumors of a food fight on the last day always circulate among the outgoing students, but nothing ever happened - that is, until this year.
On Thursday, the normal chatter of eighth-graders eating lunch in the cafeteria erupted into a minute of complete chaos as food and liquids flew through the air.
Once the air cleared and order returned, it was difficult for school officials to determine the exact number of participants involved in the altercation since more than 330 students were in the cafeteria at the time. Students cleaned up the area before returning to class.
Some fun activities that were scheduled for later that afternoon for the eighth-graders were canceled, but the day ended with a presentation to the students of their class cups and a quick address from Principal Greg Linton.
"We tried to end the day on a positive note," Linton said of the presentation.
It was determined that the core group of individuals most active in the melee would be punished.
At first, the punishment was going to be a 10-day suspension, but school officials adopted a lesser punishment in an effort to insure that students make the transition into high school in the fall.
"There have been a total of 16 students punished," Linton said. "Most kids hate being suspended. They'd much rather be at school with their friends than stuck at home."
The punishments needed to be severe enough to set a precedent for detering such behavior in the future while remaining fair.
The revised punishment for those participants most active in the food fight and/or unresponsive to a teacher's authority was suspension for five days. The other students will receive a three-day suspension at the begining of the 2005/06 school year.