A Story for the Ages: The Senior Prank of 1992


Eddie Scheidler

A tradition dating back to generations before our very own grandparents–as hard as that is to imagine–senior pranks have always been at the foundation of building up the future legacy of each senior class. Though sweet, gentle Grandma Margaret (don’t worry Grandma, I’m not calling you out) doesn’t seem like the one who would be interested in such an endeavor, she too, at one point, was a senior herself. I know, weird right?

Senior pranks are just a part of the high school experience and a rite of passage for any senior class. The school threatens students not to carry through with their annual prank as they often immaturely involve destruction or vandalism. The students often go ahead and do it anyways, and the school brushes the prank under the rug and acts as if it never happened as it is most likely cleaned (or repaired) before the rest of the student body even arrives to school. It’s a never ending cycle; repeating itself, again and again, year after year. Since the high school’s establishment in 1935, one senior prank, however, has prevailed far above the rest, revered by many, including the Chicago Tribune, as “one of the all-time greatest.” Possessing the essentials to create one of the most elaborate, well-thought out antics that Lake Forest High School has seen, the class of ‘92 will forever go down as some of the brightest to ever do it.

To set the scene for you, it was a late afternoon on a moderately warm spring day in early May. The birds were chirping, the sun was shining, and the Lake Forest upperclassmen made their way home, about to walk into what had the makings to be one of the most uncomfortable conversations a teenager will ever have to go through with Mom and Dad. Exhausted from the school day, wanting to take a step back, breathe, and maybe eat something small before procrastinating their way through a night of homework and studying, the last thing one wants to spend their short-lived free time discussing is the *cough* “the talk” *cough* with their parents. Impatiently waiting, with blood pressures higher than ever before, parents across the Lake Forest and Lake Bluff communities remained in complete and utter shock at what the school they had once thought to be safe to send their beloved sons and daughters had decided to do.

Outsmarting the faculty and the entire administration as a whole, a group of reckless, carefree seniors–ignoring any and all risks of getting caught and facing severe consequences–devised a plan so brilliant even the smartest of teachers couldn’t see through it. Though the exact procedure for such a venture will forever remain a mystery, the strategy behind the school’s most renown escapade was simple. Somehow and in someway, whether it was through the help of a student that was part of the school paper, or with a little bit of luck in being at the right place at the right time, the senior group made their way into the mail room and managed to swipe the school’s letterhead without drawing too much attention to themselves. The first step of the process proved successful and it was now time for, by far, the most crucial component to the prank itself: writing on a subject that’s both controversial and somewhat concerning, while still being convincing enough to draw out a big reaction.

It wasn’t before long that the senior pranksters landed on the topic for the letter, choosing to write about one of the countless stereotypical “interests” of a young and immature teenage boy–what else did you expect? With the words “Prom Committee” emblazoned across the top of the paper in bold, black ink, the content of the letter, raised eyebrows among the teachers in the English Department once the incident was all said and done. The language and professionalism of the writing had been more convincing than many of the seniors had anticipated.

The letter announced that condoms were to be distributed to all students upon arrival at the Chicago Marriott. Both the faculty members and parents of the Prom Committee wanted to combat the “serious problems of teenage pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases” in the community. And just as most teenagers know exactly how to push their parents’ buttons and never realize when they’ve crossed the lines, the seniors did just that with the letter, making sure to leave the school’s contact information just, for, you know, the slight chance there were any concerns.

All that was left for the infamous senior heroes to do was send out the letters, sit back, relax, and watch the blood pressures of their parents boil even higher as they watched the school confusedly attempt to sort out the situation. In order for the prank to be carried out to completion, every single senior–or at least a good amount of them–was responsible to deliver a handful of the four or five-hundred copies of the letter (packed inside an envelope) to the individual mailboxes of seniors and juniors. Though most students fail to follow through when assigned long-term essays or projects in the classroom, the level of commitment shown throughout the entire senior class was unlike any other prank, as each and every last one of the letters was slipped into the mailboxes of the parents of juniors and seniors across the school’s district. With both Lake Forest High School and the parents completely unaware, it was only a matter of time before the seniors would be able to enjoy the fruits of their labor; nothing could compare to that sort of feeling–perhaps not even an A. Stirring the pot between your parents and your school, what could honestly be better? That’s right, absolutely nothing.

For many concerned mothers, it was as if all hell had broken loose and the world was finally coming to an unexpected end. Lake Forest became the Wild West, with frantic mothers calling the school in a tizzy to check on who approved this procedure. Wanting answers instantly, a dozen or so, let’s just say “unhappy” parents demanded what the (remember: keep it PG) heck was going on. Lacking absolutely any knowledge on the situation, the school administrators–feeling like most students listening to an eighty minute lecture on the Antebellum Period before the Civil War–didn’t have the slightest clue as to what was happening. Puzzled at what could’ve happened, the school administration denied any rumors circulating around the distribution of condoms and apologized for the inconvenience. Just when you think that’s about as good as it’s going to get, the story get’s even better. Due solely to the fact that it was a senior prank, there were no “real consequences” and the administration couldn’t point fingers and play the blame game. Despite the school’s public response to the prank was one of mild amusement, looking back on it, many teachers will privately admit it was quite the sight to see.

Only a handful of teachers remain at LFHS that were able to experience the notorious gag of the senior class from over two decades ago. Dr. Amy Birtman, an English teacher for over thirty years recalls that, “Coming off of years of unfunny, uncool, flat-out cruel senior pranks, this one in particular struck; the originality and creativity struck a much better tone.” Sharing a laugh, Dr. Birtman went on to say, “Publicly, we had to think about how terrible it was that it had taken place. But on a private level, it was the most clever thing ever.”

Dr. Birtman, along with dozens of other faculty and administration members, appreciated the prank’s ingenuity and execution. In fact, as much as they denied it, even some parents, (now that hell has frozen over), will truthfully admit that the time, dedication, preparation, thought, and above all, creativity (academic value word), put into something as simple as a class prank was top notch. Just as their prank influenced many future antics down the road for years to come, the legacy of the class of ‘92 will forever live on.