NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (WPRI) – “Some sort of senior prank” involving chocolate syrup, flour, and fire extinguishers forced New Bedford High School to cancel classes Friday in order to clean up, according to New Bedford police.
New Bedford Police Capt. Steven Vincente said such a large area was affected that it will take several hours to clean. Officials say air quality was also a concern from some of the substances that were used through the lower level of the school in the kitchen, main entrance, and down to the auditorium. It is unclear if any damage was left inside the classrooms.
A New Bedford officer told Eyewitness News there was a senior year book signing at the school on Thursday night, though it is not clear if that is how the students got inside the building. Officials believe the students were not looking to destroy the property, but instead make a mess.
The students involved in the incident could face charges of trespassing or malicious destruction of property.
Superintendent Dr. Pia Durkin said parents were immediately notified of the situation through the district’s automated calling service.
“These were foolish and thoughtless actions that needlessly interrupted the great teaching and learning that goes on everyday at our high school,” said Dr. Durkin. “I am extremely grateful to the staff, parents, and students for their swift and thorough response to this incident, and to the New Bedford Police and Fire Departments for their immediate cooperation and professionalism.”
School officials confirmed that all classes and indoor activities are canceled Friday, though after school sports and other outdoor activities will take place as scheduled. Some activities scheduled for Saturday have been relocated to Keith Middle School, which is across the street from the high school.
Police and school officials are investigating the incident and have obtained surveillance video.
A team of environmental air quality experts plan to conduct a study of the building on Friday afternoon to ensure it can be reopened on Monday.
According to students who were outside the high school Friday morning, seniors were set to take final exams throughout the day. The last day of school for seniors is Tuesday.
Dr. Durkin has contacted the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to determine if the school year at New Bedford High School must be extended by one day.