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School prank doesn't amuse West Fargo officials

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Some West Fargo High School seniors found a mischievous purpose for unused sandbags left over from the spring flood fight, and now they may be in hot water.

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Custodial staff arrived just after 6 a.m. Tuesday and found sandbags piled about 3 feet high in front of all of the school's major doorways, Principal Gary Clark said.

School officials brought in a tractor and trucks and had custodial and maintenance staff come in early to remove the bags quickly so classes could start on time at 7:35 a.m., he said.

Officials are taking the prank seriously, Clark said. Blocking doors not only keeps students from getting to class, but also would slow down firefighters trying to enter the building in the event of a fire, he said.

"It becomes an inconvenience for us," he said. "I mean, it's cute to the kids, I understand that. And they didn't damage (the building), and we appreciate that. But it's like, then what does the next class do to try to one-up them? And that's the part we don't like about publicity and about that kind of thing."

Senior Levi Bachmeier, president of the school's student council, said senior classes pulled pranks the past two years, and some members of this year's class felt they should do something but didn't want to deface school property.

"I think it was intended all in good fun," he said.

Clark initially told The Forum that students would foot the bill for the overtime and equipment costs incurred, but later said school officials were mulling a number of consequences, including community service, in-school consequences and billing students for cleanup costs. No decision had been made as of late Tuesday afternoon, he said.

Officials had identified and talked to some of those responsible, learning that the sandbags came from rural residents who didn't use them, he said.

Clark estimated that 60 to 70 students took part in the prank.

"They were a little afraid of getting caught by the police, so they did it in a hurry, is what they tell me," he said.

Bachmeier, who said he wasn't directly involved in the prank, described the sandbagging as "more of a parody" coming from a senior class that helped fight major floods last year and this year.

He said seniors don't want the prank to be blown out of proportion or inspire future classes to pull less responsible pranks.

"But at the same time, I don't think it's a huge matter that dire consequences should be issued," he said.

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