Senior Prank Led to Pennsylvania School Lockdown

A lockdown at a Catholic high school in central Pennsylvania was caused by two students from a nearby public school who posed as janitors as part of a senior prank that prompted a police response.

PITTSBURGH -- A lockdown at a Catholic high school in central Pennsylvania was caused by two students from a nearby public school who posed as janitors as part of a senior prank that prompted a police response.

St. Marys police Chief Todd Caltagarone told The Associated Press on Friday that two 18-year-old students from St. Marys Area High school will be charged by summons early next week for the incident at Elk County Catholic High School, also in St. Marys, about 100 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.

"It was sort of a competition between those two (students) to see who could go the longest undetected," Caltagarone said of the faux janitors. "Between the two of them, they wanted to see who could out-prank the other."

But students and staff who saw the pranksters weren't sure what to make of their presence and began calling police with conflicting accounts of "intruders," about 8 a.m. Thursday the chief said.
"There was conflicting information because there were different people in the schools who saw them," Caltagarone said.

Police responded to the school, locked it down, and searched the facility, quickly finding the first prankster then arresting the other a short time later off school grounds after learning his name from the first student.

The chief won't release names of the two St. Marys Areas students until police mail criminal charges with a court summons to both. Because the suspects are 18 they'll be charged as adults, instead of in juvenile court, likely criminal trespass and disorderly conduct, or similar crimes, he said.

Elk County Catholic vice principal John Schneider has refused to provide details about the incident, but Ann Kearney, superintendent of the St. Marys Area schools said the students will face school discipline.

By law, the school can only discipline the students for behavior that directly affected St. Marys Area High School -- meaning they'll likely face an in-school suspension for being truant, Kearney said. The trespassing behavior must be handled by police, she said. School officials were meeting with the students' parents Friday morning to determine an appropriate punishment.

"We don't live in the same society we lived in 20 years ago. Everything's taken very seriously as well as it should be," Kearney said. "It used to be two kids could get into a fight and the next day they were friends, where now if there's any kind of fighting at all the police are called."

Kearney acknowledged the student likely meant no harm -- but said she was grateful for the police response. St. Marys Area High School also was locked down as a precaution, she said.

"Students need to be careful about the decisions they make because the consequences are more serious and long-lasting these days," she said.

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