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The Rolla Daily News - Rolla, MO
  • Former pranks have become nice gestures at RHS graduations

  • Last week, Rolla Public Schools sent a $425 donation to an Oklahoma school that was devastated by a tornado last month, but what is unusual about the donation is how it was collected.
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  • Last week, Rolla Public Schools sent a $425 donation to an Oklahoma school that was devastated by a tornado last month, but what is unusual about the donation is how it was collected.
    During past Rolla High School commencement ceremonies, the graduating seniors often would pull a prank on the principal.
    RHS Principal Jim Pritchett explained that students would walk across the stage like they always do to receive their diplomas and while doing so, they would shake the principal's hand and give the principal an object like a marble, a chocolate chip cookie or a piece of a puzzle.
    "It was done covertly during the handshake," said Pritchett. "It was a funny thing to do."
    The idea behind the prank was that if each student gave a marble or cookie, by the end of the ceremony, the principal would have 300 or 400 items.
    However, during the RHS graduation held May 24, instead of a "prank" item, the students gave Pritchett $1, $2 or $5, any amount they could spare, to be donated to the Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore, Okla., that was hit by a tornado May 20.
    "This year because of the tornado at the (Oklahoma) school, the students decided to bring money in lieu of something prank-like," Pritchett said.
    A total of $425 was raised and a check in that amount was sent to the Oklahoma school last week.
    What once were pranks at graduation have transitioned into goodwill gestures more recently. This marked the third consecutive year that the RHS graduating seniors have chosen to donate money to a cause, Pritchett said.
    Two years ago, RHS graduating seniors donated money to the victims of the Joplin tornado and last year, the students donated money for a fellow student, Devin Jones, who died a couple of weeks before graduation. There is now a memorial scholarship given to a graduating RHS senior in Jones' name.
    Pritchett said the idea to donate to the Oklahoma school was entirely student-initiated.
    With this year being Pritchett's first graduation as high school principal, he said he was somewhat prepared for a prank but did not know what this year would bring.
    Pritchett said when he got the first bill, he was shocked. After a few more students gave him money, he finally stopped one of the students and asked, "Why are you giving me this money?" Pritchett was told the money was for the victims of the Oklahoma tornado.
    "My heart was touched by their gesture," Pritchett said. He told The Rolla Daily News that he clarified to the crowd at graduation who may have seen students slipping him money that "they weren't paying me off."

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