School & District Management In Their Own Words

This Principal Endured A Lot of Senior Pranks. One Stood Out

By Denisa R. Superville — June 23, 2023 3 min read
A three photo collage on dark blue paper of principal Chris LeGrande and others from school.
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Chris LeGrande will relinquish his Walkie Talkie and keys when he retires at the end of the month. He’s spent 50 of his 55 years in schools. His entire career has been in Oklahoma, first teaching science for a decade and a half, then becoming an administrator, including a stint as a middle school assistant principal before moving to Guthrie High School in Guthrie, Okla. He often joked with his students that he loved school so much, he never left. Until now.

In his own words, LeGrande shares an unforgettable joke a group of graduating seniors played on him. The interview has been lightly edited for clarity and length.

Every year, our seniors do a senior prank. I tell them they can’t vandalize anything, and it cannot be something that’s going to do permanent damage. This last year, they toilet-papered the front of the school, and one year they took those round hay bales, and brought some tractors in, and moved them in front of the door, so no one could get into the door until we moved them.

I would say the best prank happened in 2016. I remember it because it was my oldest daughter’s senior year.

At graduation, as the graduates go through and get their diplomas, they shake hands with our school board president and our superintendent. Then they come over [to] take a photo and shake hands with each of the principals, myself, and my two assistants.

The very first student that came across the stage gave me a glass jar, almost like a vase. She goes, ‘You’re going to need this.’ I’m like ‘OK.’ I had no idea what this glass jar is for. It’s pretty big. The next student came across and they gave me a key, just like a car key. The next student came across and gave me a key. And the next student gave me a key. And so each of those 215 graduates gave me a key.

Then at the very end, I think it was the class president, who came up to me and said, ‘Mr. LeGrande, you’re going to need one of those keys to get home today.’ I’m like, ‘What do you mean?’

After everything is over, I go to my vehicle, and they—one of the students—had placed a boot, one of those things traffic controllers in big cities would use for illegally parked cars, on the front tire of my truck. I had to, in essence, go through every one of those 215 keys to find the key that was for the boot, so that I could unlock it and get home that evening.

If you can’t laugh at yourself and have fun then you’re not going to be in this profession very long.

I thought, how clever was that? Fortunately, one of the dads, who had given the student the boot, knew what key it was. He had come up to me at the end, before I went up to my truck, and said, ‘It’s the key that is silver and has like 284 on it. I still had to dig through to find it, but at least I knew what I was looking for, and I didn’t have to go individually through each one of those keys to find the one.

It sounds innocent. And it was; it was harmless. But I thought that was one of the cleverest things that they could have done. They thought it was so hilarious because can you imagine them coming through and giving me a key and going, ‘Uh, he has no idea why he was going to need this key.’ They got a big kick out of it. I got a big kick out of it. It was all in good fun.

They kind of had me on the edge of my seat. It’s almost like a good book, ‘OK, what’s coming next?’ To me it was intriguing trying to figure out why they were giving me all these keys because I knew I had my car keys in my pocket.

I’ve learned over the years, that’s the key—if you can’t laugh at yourself and have fun, then you’re not going to be in this profession very long. We are all children, or kids, at heart, and when you can express that, and that comes out to your students, they really enjoy that and it develops a special bond and relationship with those kids.

It was innovative. It was original. No one had ever done that before—and they haven’t done it since.

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