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Hundreds sign petition to drop charges after Varina High School prank

Students arrested for school vandalism (PHOTO: Henrico Police)

Students arrested for school vandalism (PHOTO: Henrico Police)

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. – More than 1,000 people have signed a petition urging Henrico Schools and Henrico Police to drop felony charges against a group of students arrested after pulling a senior prank at their high school.

“Senior pranks are a common rite of passage in schools across America. Typically, students who engage in them are asked to make amends by cleaning up their messes, or they may lose the privilege of enjoying senior perks like going on a fun trip,”  online petition author Sabrina Stevens wrote. “Yet this week, almost a dozen Black students in Henrico County, Virginia were charged with felonies, just for writing words in chocolate syrup and smearing other foods on their high school at the end of May.”

Stevens, who called her a Washington DC-based education activist, said she created the petition as a sign of solidarity and wanted to show officials people are watching their actions.

She questioned why the Varina High School students were charged with felonies despite the fact the mess was cleaned up “fairly quickly.”

“Students with felony records may have trouble getting financial aid for college, or finding gainful employment. That’s a pretty high price to pay for chocolate syrup!” she wrote.

“Chocolate sauce, syrup, rice, flour, and eggs were thrown onto numerous exterior areas of the school,” Henrico Schools spokesman Andy Jenks said shortly after the arrests. “In addition, trash cans were dumped and placed on the roofs of several buildings, and permanent marker was used to write on doors and walls. Most of the damage was cleaned up quickly that morning.”

Varina High school is scheduled to hold graduation ceremonies Thursday, June 12.

“Students involved face severe disciplinary actions including the potential loss of participating in graduation ceremonies,” Jenks said following the arrests.

The students were charged with felony vandalism and misdemeanor trespassing. Most of them have preliminary hearing scheduled for July 31.

CBS 6 News will reach out to Henrico Schools and Henrico Police for comment about the petition.

50 comments

  • X

    Maybe not a felony, but this was no ‘prank’. It indeed was vandalism and trespassing and they should pay the penalty for same. Otherwise, next time some punks come thru your neighborhood and slash all your car tires that will be considered a prank too. It’s time for kids to take responsibility for their actions and not coddled by adults. Throw them in jail for awhile and they will learn right from wrong.

  • Ron Melancon

    The law is the law the over 18 are adults and they planned the attack, they wrote the words and it is they who is responsible. Just when will they take responsibility? Maybe being sorry, and apologizing and being remorseful like I did would go a long way , but no!!!!! They have to find a way to blame our police. Look. Maybe getting into the legal system now will prevent these Adults from trouble in the future

  • tom

    prosecute to the fullest extent of the law….they knew exactly what they were doing. if they get off we need to hold law and the courts accountable.

  • Karen

    I couldn’t agree more, there is a difference between senior prank and vandalism, this was vandalism.

  • Jay

    So much anger and hate. Geez…it was some food….not even paint…..an All-American type high school prank….I hope these comments are a joke…….sadly, I know they are not…just a few mean spirited individuals.

      • C

        The article says “most” of it was cleaned up. Anything over $250 is considered a felony when it comes to vandalism. Felony may be “harsh” but it still doesnt make it right. They are Seniors, getting ready to come into this world as adults, time to start acting like one. Next thing you know they will be writing in permanent marker on YOUR door claiming it was just a prank, then what are YOU gonna do?

      • D

        Correction!! You can’t always believe what you read and hear from the media. There was no permanent marker used. The chocolate syrup actually stained as if it were marker. What the media also isn’t sharing with the public is that the students are being punished and have participated in community service at the school. You are only getting a portion of the story here people. There’s more to this story than what you have read so don’t be fooled!!

      • Reginald Bacon

        @D: since you seem connected somehow, can you tell us what they wrote? Is the substance of their words somehow connected to the felony charge?

    • jules

      Regardless of how, it was over 1,000 in damages. That makes it a felony. I know, I did the same as a senior in high school. Again I’m white. Plea dealed to drop it to a misdemeanor, 80 hours cs, and restitution. Ignorance is no excuse for breaking the law, know your laws.

  • Wake up

    Why shouldn’t they be punished? Because they’re black? I see the NAACP is running to their aid. Let be guess the white man trying to hold the black man down? Give me a break. What they did was NOT a prank.

  • jules

    I was charged with a felony in a similar situation at 17. I’m white. This isn’t racial, it’s the law.

  • shanice

    Now I will say what they did was wrong but come on now who dont do senior pranks.. all around this country that happens every year.. yes they should be held accountable.. however the FELONY charges is just to much.. basically just trying to ruin there lives when it was just a joke.. let them pay for the damages out of their pockets and make them clean up the mess they did.. im pretty sure they have learned a valuable lesson from this matter..PERIOD….

    • jules

      I was brought up on felony charges for a senior prank. Someone had to pay to fix over $1000 in damages. Do you want to pay that for them? ? ?

      • Meghan

        oh Jules, quit being a self-righteous a**. You’re just as bad as them and shouldn’t be calling them out for what they did. Save that for US, the people who would never have dreamed of doing anything like that

      • jules

        How am I self righteous. I did the same thing as these kids and know the legal process. Felony charges and no graduation ceremonies, plea deal for reduced charges, restitution, and 80 hours community service. I know the legal precedence and that a judge presides over such cases, not a jury. Show me one person on this thread with first hand experience in the exact situation. Name calling is a sign of a weak argument…stick to the subject at hand please. And they’re not bad kids, they’re young and we’re trying to be part of a pre adult tradition. They made a mistake as did I. I learned from it, and hopefully some of these kids will too. I think you may be a little self righteous thinking you have the right to judge these kids.

  • kristi

    so when these kids go out into the world and do the same types of acts or worse they will expect to be let go with a slap on the hand. sadly , kids now are not made to be responsible for anything that they do wrong

  • holly

    degradable materials were used not like they tagged a wall with spray paint… disciplinary action could be taken but a felony ..no thats to far your starting them on the wrong path already.

  • shanice

    well i honeslty not even thinking about the race card.. i just think giving felony charges for something like this is just to much..

  • carol

    how about we just stop charging black people with anything.let them pass school no matter the grades and just give them everything,thats where were headed.maybe then they will think they are equal?

  • Nola

    If they cleaned it all up then what’s the harm. Felony charges is too much. If you want to punish them then have them do community service. Don’t ruin these kids future!!! And why did they have to say ” Black Students” , what difference does it make. They should have said ” students” there’s no reason for that!

    • tom

      they did it with malice…a prank would have been toilet paper a tree, or shaving cream messages on the wall. what these creeps did was in mean spiirit..they knew they were causing damage. all you liberals and those who think they should get off the charges because they’re black need to get it together. this was an all out criminal act. black or white…all need to be prosecuted so that maybe they’ll think twice before doing it again.

      • K

        Shutup because toilet paper was used. It’s just a prank even school officials didnt know CHOCOLATE syrup would stain. A felony over syrup ? Shit is stupid

    • D

      Great points!! No one is asking the question as to why the media labeled this story about “black students”. The media wanted this to be a race issue. You have to love the media. This type of debate, conflict, and divide is exactly what they want. I definitely think punishment is warranted but a felony charge over top.

  • Boot

    kids today across America have so much give to them they have no respect for nothing,,just because you are graduating don’t give you the right to screw up,,you people who are signing the petition to let these kids go you need to join in and clean and fix ,,make it right agin.

  • bjbmom

    Punishing them is one thing…. charging these kids with a felony is not necessary. Cleaning it up… sure, paying for the damages… sure, even a formal apology or some other consequences. These kids have done what most have not and that is graduate high school. Why build them up just to shut them down. A felony will destroy their lives and they haven’t even gotten the chance to get out in the world. While we are wasting even more money to pursue these charges in court when everything could have been avoided by dividing the damages amongst them and letting them work to pay it off out of their own pockets. That would be teaching them that there are always consequences for your actions… Not showing them that we are more concerned with a high school senior prank then the real crime that is happening out here. Children make mistakes, they do things without thinking. If one of these kids belonged to you, would you want the same for your child. Years and years of hard work to make sure they graduate only to have their dreams shattered for a prank? Go ahead and lie and say that you would feel the same….

    • Fact Check

      It is inaccurate to say that most people do not graduate high school. More than 80% of students graduate high school in VA. Also, these are not “children”; they are 18 and adults under the law. Your suggestions about how they should make restitution are the prerogative of the judge. You suggest we split “the damages amongst them,” but who has that authority? A principal does not have the authority to compel someone to pay a fine for property damage and neither do you nor I – only a court can do this. If you think a felony is too severe a charge, then your issue is with what constitutes a “felony” under the law. Whether it’s an 18-year-old or a 50-year-old who breaks the law, they go to court. The judge is charged with determining an appropriate punishment.

  • Nana

    How about y’all leave race out of it because that has nothing to do with it! Black, White or indifferent what they did was wrong, and they need to be held accountable for it! My issue with this whole thing is they are being charged with a felony when there have been several senior pranks committed at other schools that were far more damaging, but those “students” were not charged with a felony. Hopefully the judge will be more understanding than most of you here because I can guarantee some of you would be up in arms about it if it were YOUR child involved!

  • carol

    oh and the two white people that shot 3 in vegas were going to give them a slap on the wrist too,correct?Maybe they had a bad upbringing or something?like I said your had equality years ago now your just being greedy.

  • K

    Okay…one more time. COSBY HIGH SCHOOL seniors did the same thing a couple of years ago and the principal wanted them charged with felonies. Felonies that could keep them from getting jobs, getting student loans, going to college, etc. for the REST of their LIVES even though, like here, the damage was cleaned up in a matter of hours. The charges against the Cosby High School kids were dropped when the community fought for them. The diff here? Cosby kids were living in Woodlake and are white. These are kids. Stupid kids, but kids. Let them graduate and don’t charge them with something that will ruin their lives.

  • carol

    murder is a murder no matter if the murderer later wants to better their lives.Just like a felony is just that based on the law and normally a dollar amount in this type of crime.So should we change that law based on someone’s life being ruined?No diff then if 2 white steal a $800 bike compared to a $2.00 candy bar they are charged based on the law.ok.You start changing laws based on skin color and the naacp yelling and wait and see what happens.Like someone said who’s paying for this,the naacp,or taxpayers?As the saying goes if you cannot do the time,dont do the crime,idiots

  • CH

    I think race is being brought into the comments as that is how the article reads. Our media just can’t stop with the racial crap. We didn’t have senior pranks when we graduated. Not sure why they are necessary. They need to make restitution for what they did, but would hate to see these kids have a felony charge on their record and that hurt them later in life. Whatever their punishment, it needs to be harsh enough to make sure they understand they are being given an opportunity to a better future and not a free ride to continue to do stupid stuff.

  • Babymama

    First of all the school was cleaned before the kids made it to that morning as stated very quickly. The kids involved have been cleaning the school since June 2 until June 12th graduation day. They had to write a 500 word essay if you were exempt from exams you had to take them, could not participate in senior activities. It was not a lot of doors it was not chocolate on a lot of the sidewalks.

  • tom

    they did it with malice…a prank would have been toilet paper a tree, or shaving cream messages on the wall. what these creeps did was in mean spiirit..they knew they were causing damage. all you liberals and those who think they should get off the charges because they’re black need to get it together. this was an all out criminal act. black or white…all need to be prosecuted so that maybe they’ll think twice before doing it again.

  • HClapp

    Since when is vandalizing a school a “rite of passage”? That’s the kind of thinking that causes this to happen in the first place. When I graduated we didn’t tear up the school as a “rite of passage”. All we did was throw our caps in the air. When my son graduated he and his friends didn’t vandalize the school. I don’t know, maybe it has something to do with how I was raised and how I raised my son – to respect others and other people’s property. People (so called activists) need to stop justifying bad behavior. Parents need to start teaching their children right from wrong. We need to stop letting kids raise themselves. Education begins at home.

  • pat

    I think that they should not be charged with a felony but should have some type of punishment. I feel that they know what they did is wrong. Also do not let them to participate in graduation ceremony. They all need some type of community service also

  • Anthony

    Do the CRIME pay the time. They broke the law…period. Sooooo typical and pathetic that the race card was pulled. It’s ridiculous that people of color are always pulling the race card after they break the rules of society. Besides, of course they are of color, most of that school is. Nothing against that at all, just a fact. How about taking responsibility for ones mistakes!

  • Smarty Pants

    Prosecute them! I went there personally for school and saw how the quality of children coming there (when they closed Armstrong) declined greatly. These individuals knew better and knew that things like permanent marker would damage property. Charge them… and others will learn that ignorance will not be tolerated!

  • Jayn Albury

    Sounds like what Juvenile detention is for….send ‘em to juvie for a bit and let them appreciate what a reasonable reaction to a foolish action comprises. These kids were being fools……. as are the authorities who are getting heavy handed with their response. Graduation pranks aren’t anything new…but felony bookings in response surely are. EVERYBODY involved here needs to grow up.

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