If it was meant to be an end-of-the-school-year prank - and it almost certainly was (or it at least likely started out that way) - it wasn't very imaginative and didn't seem very positively intentioned.
Fortunately, the punishment was, and did.
Late last week, newly renovated Duluth East High School was hit with toilet paper, eggs and spray paint. Kids were spotted scattering from the school at about 1 a.m. Friday.
So, TP in the trees: While simplistic and a bit amateurish, the joke is time-tested, usually harmless and generally meant in good fun. Not that the poor soul stuck cleaning it all up would agree.
But eggs and spray paint: Those are another matter. So many eggs were thrown at the three-story glass faade at East's main entrance, workers had to scrub for an entire day to stop the runny mess from causing permanent damage.
And the spray paint was used to leave profanity, crude depictions of male genitalia and more on the East parking lot and plaza area. Nothing funny in using eggs and spray paint; it didn't come off as a prank at all but rather as nothing more than mean-spirited vandalism.
Worse, felonious vandalism: A felony-level crime was reached when damages surpassed $1,000. Duluth school officials estimated cleanup costs at more than three times that, at a whopping $3,500. Or more, they said.
The district quickly identified five students as culprits and could have filed criminal charges against them. But it didn't.
Instead it leveled punishments that included suspensions, paying restitution, performing community service, meeting with members of the community to talk about what happened and being kept from end-of-year festivities.
The punishments were meant to "allow for some growth opportunities" and to help the students "realize the gravity of the situation," as Superintendent Bill Gronseth said.
"When we looked at this, we really wanted to make sure we're taking a restorative approach," he said in the Duluth News Tribune. "We do take the vandalism very seriously. There are consequences."
There should be - and will be. The students will be held accountable for their actions.
But in a way that doesn't threaten to derail their entire futures, something felony charges almost certainly would have done. Doors would have slammed shut on certain colleges and on specific careers among other negative potential impacts.
By picking a proactive, "restorative approach" instead, Duluth school administrators demonstrated brave leadership and showed care and compassion for students who simply made a mistake or who perhaps allowed a good-natured prank to go too far.
"We have a responsibility to help people learn in every situation," Gronseth said. "Certainly, this is one of those opportunities . to learn lessons that would last a lifetime."
Without destroying anyone's lifetime.
Distributed by MCT Information Services