River Hill Prom Will Not Be Canceled Because of "Prank"

A senior "prank" at River Hill High School that went too far will not lead to the cancelation of prom.

A senior "prank" at River Hill High School that was decribed by school officials as vandalism will not lead to the cancellation of the school's prom, according to Patti Caplan, a spokesperson for Howard County Schools.

At least 30 students were involved in the vandalism, according to Caplan. River Hill Principal Nicholas Novak sent a message to parents on Monday afternoon saying students had spray painted inappropriate messages and pictures around the high school, flipped over the 'prom promise car,' toilet papered trees and moved trash cans into the street.

In the message, Novak said consequences could include exclusion from senior activities such as prom and graduation.

Caplan said the school has determined the individuals who were involved and has notified their parents.

"It appears to be all seniors," said Caplan. "It was supposedly their senior prank."

Caplan said the students involved will have to clean up around the school.

"The consequences are going to fit the crime," said Caplan. "There may be more severe punishment depending on their level of involvement."

"This went well beyond a prank and there was definitely vandalism involved," said Caplan.

Caplan said the incident was reported to police, but that because the school is handling it she didn't believe there would be charges pursued by police.

Update 3:26 p.m.: Howard County Police spokesperson Sherry Llewellyn confirmed police will not be pursuing criminal charges in this case.

"No criminal charges will be filed in this incident," wrote Llewellyn in an email. "The school will be handling the matter administratively."

Editor's Note: This article has been corrected from its original version. It incorrectly identified River Hill's Principal as Kevin Novak, his name is Nicholas Novak. We apologize for the error.

Derrick Jordan May 15, 2012 at 05:25 PM
Good point!
Corey Andrews May 15, 2012 at 05:31 PM
"It appears to be all seniors," said Caplan. You can't convict the entire class of wrongdoing. There must be some students in a class of several hundred that had no part in this.
Andrew Metcalf (Editor) May 15, 2012 at 05:38 PM
True, perhaps I didn't provide enough context to her statement, but Caplan said that of the at least 30 students involved, it appeared they were all seniors.
Jerry Krasnick May 15, 2012 at 07:14 PM
They won't do anything because it's "River Hill!" If it were Oakland Mills or Long Reach, or Wilde Lake, then all the River Hill parents would be commenting how messed up all the kids at those schools are. They are all a bunch of hypocrites!
Cola MD May 15, 2012 at 08:03 PM
So wait, school (i.e. county) property was damaged or vandalized resulting in a financial cost to the schools/county and nothing has to be repaid by those responsible? I imagine staff time costs were also incurred, not just property damage, etc. How are taxpayers supposed to feel good about this, or even o.k. for that matter?
Leland L. Cogdell, Jr. May 16, 2012 at 12:10 PM
Current freshman, sophomores, and juniors are watching what punishment is given to these at least 30 students, all of whom appear to be seniors. Teenagers of today are more cunning and forward-thinking than you might think. I can hear them now, "They only got cleanup punishment for doing all that! Nothing on their record!"
Nicole McFarland May 16, 2012 at 12:45 PM
Candy Cangialosi May 16, 2012 at 04:00 PM
I agree 100%. Certainly no prom. And also no stage graduation should be allowed. If these are typically good kids, they would not have done such a prank. It is not a prank, it is a crime. And charges should also be filed. Does River Hill think they are above the law? I didn't know schools could handle such things as this on their own. It is a crime against the entire community. What does this say to the middle-schoolers and elementary school children in the area? Great lesson River Hill!
Leland L. Cogdell, Jr. May 16, 2012 at 04:32 PM
Right, Candy, that is, pretty much, what I was going to say, but I got pulled away by a call. You go to prom and walk across the stage because you met all of the qualifications to be there--academic AND personal conduct. And, yes, thousand of others are watching this. Go light on these criminals (not pranksters) and you send the wrong message to children we are trying to raise toward honorable manhood and womenhood around us here in Howard County. I say mail the diplomas and bill their accounts for the envelope, postage, and handling. Release no transcripts until the accounts are paid in full. No, I don't feel sorry for them. I call 'em as I see 'em.
Jan Stanko May 16, 2012 at 04:34 PM
Jerry K really hit it on the nose. As a parent from one of the schools he mentioned and a teacher at another, I was thinking exactly the same. I think the message being sent is that some people are more equal than others.
River HIll Student May 16, 2012 at 04:48 PM
Currently Post Prom is not paid for by the county or even the school system. All of Post Prom Party is paid for by donations.
River HIll Student May 16, 2012 at 04:48 PM
Our principal's name is Nick not Kevin...
River HIll Student May 16, 2012 at 04:51 PM
The students who were involved are being forced to pay for any damages that they caused.
Andrew Metcalf (Editor) May 16, 2012 at 04:54 PM
Thank you. We've corrected the error and added an editor's note. We apologize for the error.
Peter Stuppard May 16, 2012 at 06:38 PM
Being a current River Hill student I can tell you every thing they did. 1. Flipped the "Prom Promise Car." which is salvaged from a junk yard so flipping it does no harm 2. spray painted the gas in WASHABLE spray paint and nothing else.. I used to go to Oakland Mills and I agree that people would look down on the schools. We all knowthe reputation of River Hill but it was dealt with correctly. Why should the rest of school be punished from prom because of 30 SENIORS?? If that happened I bet you that cause an uproar that no one wants to start.
River Hill Student May 16, 2012 at 07:02 PM
The only "crime" was 2 people spray painted the gym entrance which was removed in less than a day.... Hahaha Stfu
River Hill Student May 16, 2012 at 07:06 PM
About 1/10th if what happened was inappropriate messages. Again. Stfu and SMD
Andrew Metcalf (Editor) May 16, 2012 at 08:12 PM
Please try to make your point without swearing, it's just as effective and a lot more respectful.
Former River Hill Student May 16, 2012 at 08:53 PM
How is this even news? Anyone who thinks that a) this is a serious crime and that b) Oakland Mills is some sort of downtrodden ghettos has lived in Howard County waaaay too long.
River Hill Student May 16, 2012 at 09:26 PM
Please try to make your point or story in your case without sugarcoated truths. This story is ridiculous
HowardCountyStudent May 16, 2012 at 10:21 PM
This was blown way out of proportion, and I love how all these non-River Hill students and parents believe that the 30 children should get full punishment- yet if it was their school they would believe other wise. The damages, if any, were minimal- since the spray paint was washable. The car was from a junkyard, which is where it will go back to after prom. This prank was nothing serious, not funny- but not serious.
Former HoCo Student May 16, 2012 at 10:50 PM
I'll be honest, this was an over-exaggerated and stereotypical article. Pretty darn bad. - The car was from a junkyard. Flipping it over will do no visible damage. - There were 4 dicks sketched on the school in washable paint, which can be washed off in like 2 minutes. I agree those kids should get no prom, but that's about it. - The TP should've been fine as long as the kids picked it up. - Trash cans in a street? Seriously? Like anyone will be coming around in cars ON A SCHOOL DAY. Where all the students are INSIDE. The phallic vandalism should be punished, but that's about it. Seriously, what an anal article.
Compman12 May 17, 2012 at 01:45 AM
the spray paint was in the grass. When they mowed the lawn it dissapeared. Washable paint on the sidewalk that just read 2012 has already been cleaned off. Prom car is a totalled car. Tee pee'ing is just toilet paper. 6 rollable trashcans in the parking lot entrance roll back to their spot on the side of the street in a few minutes. Cut me a break
HoCo Parent May 17, 2012 at 02:31 AM
As a HoCo teacher, I am well aware of the sense of entitlement that comes out of River Hill. The sad fact is that students learn behavior and respect from parents.. I attended the last football game between RHHS and AHS, and when leaving the stadium I heard some River Hill parents commenting to each other that Atholton students were sore losers as they passed a cheerleader crying on her parents shoulder. If the parents act like that, why expect better from their kids? The guilty students should not be allowed to attend prom, or graduation. If had a child involved in something like that, the decision would already have been made...by me.
Compman12 May 17, 2012 at 03:12 AM
You just proved this is a you hate River Hill thing. Last time I checked, when Atholton beat RH the students all stormed the field and the AHS administration did nothing to stop it. River Hill fans were respectful when the Hawks won the game that actually mattered.
Former HoCo Student May 17, 2012 at 01:13 PM
Are you seriously stereotpying the whole school because of a bad experience you had with RH? Just because a couple parents were being jerks doesn't mean the entire school is the same way. I seriously expected some more maturity from a parent of a HoCo student.
River Hill Student May 17, 2012 at 05:04 PM
im not gonna not graduate for this and they sure as hell arent gonna take prom away from anyone who already paid 136 dollars for them and there date and plus you realize how much money they spend on organizing prom they're not gonna take it away you guys are retarded if you think that'd ever happen. The school took the actions of not taking anything away and not pressing charges for a reason... that reason is that no real damage was done for everything that has been said by every person named as "River Hill student" the school is smarter than all of you writing on this your opinions dont matter because you werent actually here to see what happened so of course your going to just believe what an article says. sugar coated "facts" the school gave us no punishment cause no damage was caused, u think if any of this was as serious as vandalism or as serious as this article and all of u commenting on this makes it seem u really think the school wouldnt have pressed charges? No the school didnt press charges cause it wasnt that serious
Anne May 18, 2012 at 06:18 PM
Some of the unidentified "River Hill Students" who responded to this Patch article have displayed egregious errors in grammar & rhetoric while demeaning the outcry against the "senior prank". Quite frankly I am more upset w/ their display of ignorance than I am w/ the spray-painting & related activities described. THESE are graphic examples of the much-vaunted Howard County School system! Instead of running Allen Dyer off the board, the remaining board members need to start asking some questions & closely monitoring the incoming school superintendent.
Derrick Jordan May 22, 2012 at 04:11 PM
"Wasn't as serious a vandalism." You do know what they did is called vandalism right? Especially when you spray paint on school property whether it be on the grass or on a gym door. Definitely wasn't approved by the school, so that would make it an illegal act. The Prom promise car being flipped would have been fine if they had left it at that. I heard from a current RH student that the kids involved had to clean up, but I still think more community service is needed if they won't have anything in their record. I do remember my senior prank when we took all the batteries out of the clocks at the school. No spray painting, no tipping over anything, nothing to embarass the school. At graduation, we gave Mr. Plunkett the batteries as we walked across the stage. Now, that's a senior prank! Be clever, not reckless.
Derrick Jordan May 22, 2012 at 04:15 PM
Plus, I pay taxes on that school along with the rest of the schools in Howard County, so that's how serious it can get.


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