Fourteen Hawkinsville High School students initially told that they could not walk during the school’s upcoming graduation ceremony are being allowed to participate in exchange for a long list of apologies and their performing custodial service.
Seventeen people are accused of participating in a senior prank at the school April 26 that involved letting several chickens loose inside the school and putting out chicken-feed corn kernels. The students also hid sardines in air vents, authorities said.
Superintendent Janis Sparrow said Tuesday that after talking with the students and giving the situation additional thought, she offered them an option that would allow the students to participate in graduation.
“I thought, we’ll see if they’re really sorry and give them the option,” she said.
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Fourteen of the students agreed to perform 16 hours of custodial work before their June 11 graduation and apologize to the school board, the cleanup crew and students and employees at the school who had to endure the smell of the prank until it was cleaned, Sparrow said.
One of the students has withdrawn from school. Another one chose not to take the new option, she said.
The 17th person had already graduated at the time of the prank.
Sparrow said the students have served their seven days of suspension and will begin working their 16 hours of custodial work this week.
The students also were ordered to pay an estimated $2,500 for the cleanup in the days after the prank.
District Attorney Tim Vaughn said Tuesday that the 17 pranksters are charged with second-degree criminal damage to property, a felony that carries a prison sentence ranging from one to five years.
Vaughn said he’s evaluating the charges against members of the group, and he’s got the option to change the charges in the case, which could range from a misdemeanor to a more serious felony.
“They are going to be prosecuted,” he said.
To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.