The Student Bulletin Prank of 1989

Twenty years ago my high school produced a daily “Student Bulletin”. These were distributed to all classrooms, and some anointed student would read the bulletin aloud to all assembled. Typical items in the bulletin included reminders of upcoming events, announcements of policy changes, and congradtulations to students for notable (and often routine) accomplishments.

At some point, I and two chums (one of whom was the aforementioned Jamie Babcock) decided to pull an April Fools Day prank. We cooked up our own version, using the header from a purloined copy of an actual Student Bulletin and my ancient manual typewriter . The typeface of my typewriter was almost identical to that which the school used, and to an uncritical eye our counterfeit looked almost indistinguishable to the real thing. At least until you read it.

I would love to say that we used some convoluted and ingenious method of insinuating the fake document into the school bulletin pipeline (and I guess I could, as this blog ain’t exactly fact-checked). Alas, it was not necessary for us to break into the building in the dead of night, or disguise ourselves as the members of Poison.

You see, the distribution system for the Student Bulletin was pretty rudimentary. The school secretary would produce enough photocopies for all the classrooms, and then just leave them in a pile on the office’s main desk during the break following second period. One “student leader” from each class would stop by, grab the top bulletin from the pile, and take it with them to period three.

So on March 31 of 1989 (April Fools Day fell on a Saturday that year) I strode into my school’s office with a stack of fake bulletins under a binder. I set the binder on the stack on real authetic student bulletins, looked around for a moment as if confused, picked up the binder (leaving the payload behind), and high-tailed it out of there. Success!

A few notes of context that will make the bulletin–well, not any funnier, but at least less mystifying:

  • The year prior the school had largely abandoned premade meals in the lunchroom in favor of a huge bank of vending machines, which sold everything from sandwiches to juice to ice cream cones. This new system was called “Cafe USA”.
  • Two student groups at the school were PAB (Positive Attitude Builders, who held pep rallies and whatnot) and the Wizards of Science.
  • The marching band would routinely sell carnations in the before Valentine’s Days, with the various colors of the flowers signifying different things.

Anyway, if you were in Mr. Bristol’s third period world history class that day, this is what you would have heard read aloud.

The Student Bulletin Prank of 1989

Click To Ginormosize

Coupla notes. First of all, how do you think a student-written document that has kids getting shot and a bomb under a teacher’s desk as its first two items would go over today? Still a laff riot?

Second, I think this definitively proves that my abysmal spelling is not a degenerative condition, but has been a travesty from birth (or at least 12th grade). If anything, my spelling has actually improved a bit over the last two decades. At least now I select the correct there / their / they’re slightly more than the 30% of the time that pure chance would dictate.

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25 comments.

  1. I lold.

  2. Nothing says romance like meatloaf. How thoughtful that you color-coded it.

  3. You went to Hazen? I played sports against students who went to Hazen a decade after you did!

    Were you caught?

  4. It’s hard to believe that you still have a copy of this laying around. Amazing, perhaps.

  5. As far as I’m concerned, this is at the peak of 80′s humor. Which, FYI, I hardly consider a bad thing. Even if I was 9 when this letter was written.

  6. As far as I’m concerned, this is at the peak of 80′s humor. Which, FYI, I hardly consider a bad thing. Even if I was 9 when this letter was written.

  7. My high school handled the daily notices in exactly the same way, and my friends pulled exactly the same prank. I don’t think we had your honest nature though – about 2/3 of our sheet was kept completely plausible so teachers might not spot it.

    My main contribution was to tell a class of first years that their lesson was being moved to room 26. Due to the weird room numbering layout this could plausibly have been at the top of one building, halfway up another building or in the corridor joining the two. In reality, room 26 didn’t actually exist, having long since been converted into a storage area and had its number removed. A surprisingly high proportion of that class spent the first half of their lesson running up and down stairs trying to find it.

    I’ve forgotten most of the rest, but we also announced that a certain teacher had recently become terribly phobic of chalk and asked for pupils to be supportive when she tried to use it, especially if she was brave enough to pretend that she was fine.

    I wish I’d had the foresight to keep a copy; at the time I thought it’d look too much like incriminating evidence.

  8. That’s fantastic.

  9. So good I had to say it twice.

  10. I have to know: Was there any fallout for this Hi-Jink?

  11. holy shit, was there really a Mr. Burpee?!?!?!?

  12. The “correction” at the bottom is priceless.

    And in the ’80′s, USSR jokes were guaranteed home runs for geeks like us.

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  14. I am told Mr. Burpee was the band director.

  15. LOVE the USSR jokes. So time-appropriate! Wish I’d been that clever. But by my senior year (1989), the announcements were read over the intercom by the ASB officers.

    And about the “shot” and “bomb” – yeah, I totally cringed. I’m a teacher now and the climate is TOTALLY different. An interesting example of how much things have changed.

    Thanks for sharing – it was a great laugh. Helps get me back in the mindset I’ll need to add attend my 20th reunion this summer.

  16. Awesome. That comedy aged well, like a fine wine.

    I teach now at a college that uses a similar system. Might have to do something similar. Must….fight…evil…urges…

  17. I was in 8th grade when the “Who shot JR” thing was happening on Dallas. I was also the one who read the announcments over the loudspeaker. We staged a “Who shot the principal” thing, a la War of the Worlds, and even included pictures of the event in the school paper. The principal and office staff were totally into it. Would never happen today.

  18. So what happened?

    Did it get read?

    Any repurcussions? reparcushions? repo… whatever?

  19. I barely remember Hazen at all, but yes, there was a Mr Burpee.

    I graduated in 91, so I must have been there for this bulletin, but I cannot remember it being read out.

    Still though, great job!

  20. No follow-up on what happened? Hmm.

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  22. It should be noted that the meatloaf joke is comedy gold. Still. The rest is high school humor at its best, which is no small accomplishment, but the meatloaf joke stands on its own. Good, good stuff. Really.

  23. The seniors pulled a similar prank my Junior year, but their memo was filled with new draconian policies that brought the office to a standstill as they were overwhelmed with protests (mostly from teachers who had been told they would have to spend their planning hours patrolling the halls and bathrooms).

    Funnily enough, the teachers that didn’t fall for it recognized it had to be a fake because of the lack of spelling errors.

  24. Greetings fellow Hazen-ites, Hazen class of ’02 here! I notice Gordy (the Highlander mascot) still looked hilarious and cartoony back in ’89. Now there is a painting of him in the gym where he is all bare chested and manly looking in his kilt. I often thought that he resembled an illustration on the cover of a romance novel. The Scottish Stallion, or something like that.
    Tampering with the announcements…that took some balls! Even though I graduated some years after the infamous stunt, this brought up some memories.

  25. Ah, that subtle high school humor. :)