On Monday, 64 Kenowa Hill High School seniors biked to school in Walker, Mich. Nice, right? Well, the principal didn’t think so. She suspended the kids for the day and threatened to keep them from walking in their graduation ceremony. Somehow, this one story manages to encapsulate everything that is wrong with American attitudes towards biking.
The group ride was conceived as a less-destructive alternative to the traditional vandalize-the-school, get-everyone-out-of-class brand of senior pranks. Skipping lightly over the fact that a few dozen students riding bikes qualifies as a “prank” rather than a “Monday,” these kids actually deserve a lot of praise for organizing a group activity that’s healthy for them, the planet, and the community, instead of just pulling fire alarms.
And indeed, they got some praise — the mayor even showed up to hand out donuts. But when the “bike parade” arrived at school, the principal had a major freakout and sent the kids back home.
Someone with a cell phone captured her panicking over the risk the students took:
“If you and your parents don’t have sense enough to know your brains could end up splattered on Three Mile and Kinney, Fruit Ridge, then maybe that’s my responsibility,” she is heard telling students on the cellphone video obtained by 24 Hour News 8.
Now, the kids were actually pretty safe because they had a police escort to school. The worst consequences of the biking were some traffic delays, which made some teachers and students late for school (which I believe is one of the classic senior prank goals — delay of class, if not all-out chaos that means all students miss a day of school). But it’s sad in its own way that for just a small portion of this school’s students to safely arrive by bike, they needed a police car guarding their rear. And it’s way sadder that the kids arranged a safe, healthy, sustainable, mayor-approved activity and got punished for it.
Update: The principal apologized for freaking out.
60 Students Suspended for Biking to School (?!?), TreeHugger.