Caught red-handed

Chronicle Staff

Nick Greif ’07 had the iPod buds in his ears attached to a walkie-talkie hidden in his sweater. In his sports bag were a lacrosse stick, pads, 25 feet of chains and two padlocks.
“All clear,” whispered Jon Daneman ’07, the lookout, into his radio.

Greif and Dani Kudrow ’07 headed for their target: the left side of the Seaver staircase.
“We had been trying to come up with a prank that would be fun, easy to pull off, safe and generally harmless to the school,” Greif said. The students were inspired by an article written in the November issue of the Chronicle which highlighted the overwhelming use of the left staircase.

“We decided to chain up the stairs to prank all of the lemmings who use the left side of the staircase instead of the right – if they would not cease being lemmings, we would force them to stop being lemmings.”

They began to block off a section of the stairs by weaving the chains through in an X-pattern. They were nervous: the chain was making a lot of noise. Suddenly a leaf blower turned on somewhere and masked the sound of the metallic chains with an industrial roar.

“At that point, we finished up, calmly zipped up the bag and went to breakfast,” Greif said.
The smile on his face was soon clarified by Kudrow: “So, just as we’re walking down Coldwater, [Security Officer Sanders] Jackson pulls up and asks us what we’re doing. Nick yelled ‘Breakfast Thursdays!’” After that scare, they arrived at Western Bagel and were having their breakfasts when Head of Upper School Harry Salamandra arrived to pick up bagels.

“Wow, you guys are up early,” he said and laughed. The students laughed too, but were mortified.

“We don’t need pranks,” said Director of Inter-Campus Security Kevin Giberson. By the time he got a call regarding the chain and headed down to the stairs, a bolt-cutter was already being retrieved. “My concern was that distracted people could run into it and get seriously hurt.”

The three students were called into the Emery Room individually during seventh period that day. They were presented with high resolution color stills from the recently installed security cameras which showed them walking into school and milling around early in the morning.

“We weren’t trying to be secretive,” Kudrow said. “We weren’t going to deny it.”

The students planned to pull off the prank after Thanksgiving. Then it was announced at senior class assembly on Nov. 14 that security cameras would be installed throughout the school.

“With that in mind, we rushed our plans,” Greif said. The students set the date for two days later.

The period after being presented with the photos, they were taken in to meet with Head of School Dr. Jeanne Huybrechts, Greif and Kudrow together and Daneman alone.

Huybrechts argued that their prank was inconvenient for maintenance, the school had to pay them overtime, the chains could have been dangerous, and have “demoralized the school,” the students said. The students lost senior privileges until the end of winter break, Salamandra said.

“It’s looking at a bigger picture of what we’re trying to do here on a daily basis,” he said. “What they did was an impediment, and more than that, in my experience one-upmanship can get out of hand. There’s potential for the next person to try to do a little bit more.”