Principal calls police on students after senior prank

A student discusses what happened after a group of students switched schools.
Published: May. 10, 2023 at 12:22 PM EDT
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV/Gray News) - Several southern Colorado students are facing repercussions following a senior prank gone wrong.

On May 4, 18 students, six from Woodland Park High School and 12 from Manitou Springs High School planned to swap places at school.

“We were just going to switch senior classes. Woodland Park would come to Manitou and act like us, and Manitou would go to Woodland Park and act like them,” explained Nohla Christiansen, a Manitou Springs student who participated in the swap. “We didn’t mean any harm by this situation.”

According to Nohla Christiansen, almost everyone’s parents signed off on the prank, and a few teachers were in the loop.

In a statement released to 11 News, Interim Superintendent Eric McMartin said in part after hearing rumors of Woodland Park students in their school that school administrators and staff members did a sweep of the campus, discovering three students that shouldn’t have been on campus, “after which they were escorted to the front office. School administrators also intercepted three additional non-Manitou Springs Hight School students trying to enter the high school through the locked Common’s door; the students were told to leave campus and they complied.”

At Woodland Park High School, the 12 seniors split into two groups.

“So, six of us went one way, six of us went the other. We went into a classroom and the teacher was like, ‘Oh, why are there so many Manitou kids here?’ and we told her what we were doing, and she left, so we decided to leave her classroom and split up again,” Nohla Christiansen said.

After their second split, she said they ran into Woodland Park’s principal.

“He told us, ‘Go into this room or I’m going to arrest you. You’re going to go to jail.’ We thought he was joking, then slowly all the rest of the kids went into that room and then we realized he was being serious,” Nohla Christiansen said. “He said that it was a serious charge that was going to happen and that he was going to have cops come in and stuff. So, later, about three to four cops walked in, and then that’s when we all knew it was really serious.”

After missing two blocks of school and watching the other pranksters return from Manitou, each Manitou Springs senior was talked to and ticketed by police with a notice to appear in court.

Nohla Christiansen said she was told they were “going to get a trespassing charge.”

As of Wednesday, the district attorney has dropped all charges against the students. Tthe school district said the students have been disciplined.

“I thought this was kind of silly and lighthearted, but it just didn’t turn out that way,” said Savannah Christiansen, Nohla Christiansen’s mom. “I think if I would have processed it that way, I wouldn’t have let her go, but I thought it was a silly prank.”

Multiple people, including parents and teachers, have reached out to KKTV regarding this prank and the way the two schools handled the situation, claiming legal action against one set of students was unfair and harsh.

“The principal at Woodland Park blew the whole thing out of proportion, scared the kids, was rude to the kids, didn’t give them the chance to explain themselves,” Savannah Christiansen said.

In a statement released to KKTV, Woodland Park School District said in part: “Woodland Park School District (WPSD) wants to make it clear that the recent incidents involving seniors from (Woodland Park High School) attempting to attend classes at Manitou Springs High School, and vice versa, were not taken lightly by the school administration. ... In collaboration with law enforcement, the school administration took swift and appropriate action to address the situation and prevent any similar incidents from occurring in the future.”

The district added, “While we recognize this was intended to be a harmless prank, it is important to acknowledge that such behavior can potentially expose our students to risk.