Toilet paper covered Marietta High School on Thurs., Sept. 3, 2015. ALAN JUDD / AJUDD@AJC.COM

End of tradition? Marietta High senior prank results in penalties

For longer than most people can remember, it’s been a tradition at Marietta High for seniors to drape toilet paper across the school campus at the start of each academic year.

Administrators didn’t exactly endorse the rolling of the school. In fact, they warned against the activity, but they also seemed to tolerate it, especially since the culprit students faithfully cleaned up their mess. The popularity of the annual event grew in recent years and even attracted media coverage.

This year, however, tissue became an issue.

According to parents who spoke with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the 40 or so students who participated in the early Thursday morning paper hanging have been told they will serve one-day in-school suspensions.

Parents said they are concerned that the suspensions will go on permanent records and worry the black mark could hurt the chances of some students to get into the college of their choice.

They also had feared those students would not be allowed to attend the football team’s home opener in its newly renovated stadium Friday — a major social event. But Principal Forrestella Taylor said Thursday night that it had been decided that they will be allowed to go to the pep rally and the game.

Taylor said she could not comment on any disciplinary action taken.

But she did explain the decision to enforce the ban on rolling the school. She said the tradition had evolved from a relatively small, impromptu moment into a pre-planned, larger-scale event, and she was concerned about the safety of so many unsupervised students at that time of night.

She said it was repeatedly made clear that rolling would not be condoned.

Still, parents lamented what some view as the end of a tradition.

Marion Savic, whose son was one of the rollers, said she was upset because school administrators had always taken a “wink-wink” approach to the event.

“It’s something that’s been accepted for a long time,” Savic said. Two older children, a son and daughter, had rolled the school without consequences, she said.

Her son David is “really worried. These are kids who’ve never been in trouble before.”

Savic acknowledged, as did other parents, that the message was sent again this year that rolling was not allowed. But the message had been sent before and nothing was done.

“It was a shift in tradition and it was not communicated well enough,” she said.

Jessica Bailey’s son, Tyler, also was caught up in the rolling. Her three other children rolled the school and were not punished like Tyler was, she said.

“I don’t think,” Bailey said, “the punishment fits the crime.”