Senior Pranks: A Rogue Tradition Since 1936

Illustration by Austen Rogers/The Choate News

For their prank, the Class of 2017 hid business cards around campus.

Throughout the history of Choate Rosemary Hall, there have been many remarkable and entertaining senior pranks. One notable senior prank happened way before the birth of many Choate students and parents. In 1965, several senior students decided to bring a cow named Elise into the Dining Hall for breakfast. Though it brought a good chuckle to the breakfast table, the situation turned problematic when Elise refused to go down the stairs of the Dining Hall when it was time for her to leave. Archivist Assistant Ms. Stephanie Gold stated, “The students ended up needing to go back to the farm where Elise was from and bring her calf.  No student wanted to hurt Elise, so they ended up using Elise’s calf to herd her down the stairs.”

Another memorable senior prank happened in 1970. Jim Hudak ’70, John Korgan Aryes ’70, and several other students snuck out of their dorms in the middle of the night and inserted a six-foot Mickey Mouse into the clock of the Chapel. “I think that was one of the best senior pranks,” School Archivist Ms. Judy Donald commented. “During the time, the headmaster was Seymour St. John and his home was in the Sally Hart Lodge area. It makes me wonder what feelings he had waking up and staring out his window.”

The first record of a senior prank dates back to 1936. “Every year we try to keep track of them, however, some senior pranks are not as prevalent as others, and sometimes people don’t even find out about them.” Ms. Donald stated.

Current Choate student Edie Conekin-Tooze ’19 has a more recent memory of senior pranks: “I think the best senior prank came when the seniors sent an email to all of the freshman who were on a dean’s list and told them they were invited to a special event in Headmaster Shanahan’s house.” Freshman geared up for the celebratory event, when, actually, there was nothing planned. “Although there was no event in the end, Mr. Shanahan ordered the students pizza,” she remarked.

“Another prank I remember hearing about was when some seniors decided to set up a petting zoo in the mem field. I thought that was definitely a prank that was quite interesting.” Conekin-Tooze said.

HPRSS Department teacher Ms. Amy Salot has a different take on her favorite prank. “My favorite senior prank has to be when the seniors restaged all of the chair holder’s photos in the lobby of the library,” Ms. Salot said. “They recreated and reposted the photos of the department heads with similar uniforms, angles and frames. It was genius and well done.”

Current seniors have mixed feelings about this year’s senior pranks. “I’m not quite sure yet because we do not have anything concrete planned yet, but I believe it will be a good prank and a good surprise. Last year’s prank in my opinion not a very good prank. It was more of a class spirit and simply wasn’t funny,” Claudia Pagnozzi-Schwam ’18 commented. “I don’t think this year’s senior class is that into senior pranks,” Stewart Egan ’18 said.

Throughout the history of Choate, there have been many successful and remembered senior pranks, while many others are forgotten or frowned upon. According to Ms. Salot, “I believe a good senior prank is tasteful, clever and isn’t at the expense of another.” As it comes close to the time of year where senior pranks normally take place, watch for the Class of 2018’s take on the decades-old tradition.

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