Water balloons 'splat' graduation for seniors

June 21, 2011 2:32:00 PM PDT
From a second floor window of East Rockaway High school, you see a flood of students and cars across the street--it's the aftermath of a massive water balloon fight--something seniors considered a harmless last day of class prank, off school property. But administrators didn't.

"I honestly threw one balloon, I didn't think it would ruin my chances of graduation...absurd", said East Rockaway senior, Ryan Starkman.

Another senior, Taylor DeStefani added, "I grew up with these kids...not to be able to walk down the aisle with them, sucks."

Seniors admit they gathered 15-hundred water balloons to throw at their classmates as they left school last Tuesday. But as a result, 14 seniors and six underclassmen are being disciplined. Some of them stood anxiously outside of the school this morning, as parents met with the superintendent--hoping for a reversal.

Parent Lori DeStefani said, "We just want an appeals process. They took the prom away too."

Another parent, Fred Starkman added, "Let them go paint benches....it's absurd."

But administrators describe the scene as frightening, confusing and dangerous for other students and parents--who didn't know what was going on as balloons were flying everywhere, and impeding traffic.

The principal, assistant principal and a crossing guard were hit.

The school hosts grades 7 through 12--and some of the underclassmen ran back into the building terrified.

"It was a friendly water balloon fight. There was no harm, no danger", Taylor said.

The principal told Eyewitness News he sent out two newsletters sent to parents and students in May and June--warning that end of the year would be punished by exclusion from graduation.

And in written statement, school superintendent Roseanne Melucci said, "It is unfortunate that despite those warnings these young adults made a conscious decision to participate in actions that endangered the safety and welfare of other children and adults."

Dr. Melucci also said she's surprised students and parents are surprised they implemented the consequence they said they would. Parents can appeal to the Board of Education or State Education Commissioner, but right now, she's sticking to her guns.

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