Food Fight, Fire Alarm Pull Puts West Springfield Senior Events on Hold

"Senior pranks will not be tolerated in our building," Principal says.

Senior events at West Springfield High School have been put on hold until an investigation into Thursday's food fight has been completed.

The food fight, a senior prank which was reportedly planned by students on Facebook beforehand, occurred during C Lunch and according to a letter sent out to parents by Principal Paul Wardinski, resulted in a few minor injuries. A fire alarm was also pulled during the incident.

The principal declared that all senior events, including the June 17 prom and the senior trip to Hershey Park, are on hold until the investigation is completed.

"This is a very serious matter and senior pranks will not be tolerated in our building," Wardinski said.

Wardinski met with parents Friday afternoon to discuss the incident. A Fairfax County spokesman said that the earliest that a decision will be made about the senior events will be Monday.


This letter was sent out to parents and guardians of West Springfield High School on Thursday, May 12 at 3:47 p.m.

Dear Parents/Guardians,

Shortly after 1:00 pm today, a major disturbance was initiated in our school’s cafeteria.  A significant food fight was started by a group of senior students which escalated into involving groups of students from all grade levels in the cafeteria during C lunch.  There were a few minor injuries resulting from this incident. Simultaneously, someone pulled a fire alarm disrupting our educational process for a period of time this afternoon.

At this time, ALL senior activities including the senior picnic, senior trip to Hershey Park and the Senior Prom are on hold until we complete our investigation of the incidents today.  All students involved are facing consequences from the school and some may also face criminal charges from Fairfax County Police.  School Resource Officer Plazio is leading our investigation in this matter.  This is a very serious matter and senior pranks will not be tolerated in our building.

The West Springfield High School Administration is committed to providing a safe environment for all students and staff.  Please have a conversation with your children tonight about their role in maintaining a safe environment at school. We are thankful that the majority of the students did not participate in this incident.  Again, our number one priority is the safety and security of the students and staff while they are at school.

If you have any questions, please contact your student’s grade level administrator or me at (703) 913-3800.


Paul A. Wardinski

mary May 13, 2011 at 09:01 PM
These are not little children we are talking about. They are young adults about to go off on their own. You can't simply pat them on their heads and tell them what they did is OK, and send them off to play in their rooms. By your logic, until a person reaches the age of 30, they should not be held responsible for their actions because they have not "reached an age of maturity" Fortunately, the majority of teens have risen far above your expectations. It is unfortunate that a few ruin it for the rest.
mary May 13, 2011 at 09:07 PM
Why should the custodians even have to clean up after these immature and thoughtless students? Maybe if the students AND their parents had to clean up the mess there might be a different type of dialoge going on here.
Smith Jones May 13, 2011 at 09:18 PM
Seriously, it's stories like this that make me think that we are screwed as a nation, and why the Chinese are going to take over. School should be for learning, not for having fun. While some of us might try to excuse this as kids being kids, they really aren't. These chuckleheads should learn respect for property rights and some respect for authority. At the very least, the repair costs should be paid from the students or the student's parents. Those students found to be culpable should be banned from Prom and other senior activities. Hell, ban all of the senior activities. The excuse that we used to do stuff like this really shouldn't fly. When I was a teenager, we smoked cigarettes and weed, drove drunk and stoned, and generally behaved like asses. Whenever we got caught, it was taken out of our hides. This kind of behavior shouldn't be incentivized, but rather discouraged. These chuckleheads need to learn that the world is a cruel and unforgiving world and that they aren't special little snowflakes.
John Farrell May 13, 2011 at 09:19 PM
No one suggests "patting them on their heads and letting them do what they want." But criminalizing foolish behavior is not the answer either. There are approximately 53,000 high school kids in FCPS. Last year FCPS had 69,000 disciplinary events. 80% of which were at the high school level, I estimate. That means each of these adolescents (not young adults but "adults becoming" and that is a significant difference) got into trouble at school. Most were pretty pedestrian, like forgetting to shut off a cellphone in class or being late to class without a pass, but an infraction of the rules nonetheless. Most kids are well behaved, most of the time, but each trips up at least once. Science tells us that the part of the brain that controls impulsive behavior isn't fully connected to the rest of the brain until 25 or so. So expecting high schoolers to act like "young adults" is the equivalent of asking a dolphin to type. Good luck with that. Juvenile probation offices across the country have found through trial and error, and hard research, that the punitive retributive model to juvenile correction doesn't work. An educational, therapeutic and restorative process gets far better results. I wonder what's going on at WSHS that prompts this level of intense rebellion? Have the administrators so lost the respect of the seniors that this action is their only recourse?
Rachael Dickson May 13, 2011 at 09:33 PM
I'm going to go ahead and close these comments down and delete the more negative ones. We really try to foster an environment where everyone can speak freely on Burke Patch, but I'm seeing people go after each other in the comment section and this is just not cool. Please try to remember that there are real people behind the screen names and show them the same respect you would like to have for yourself. Thanks y'all commenting and supporting Burke Patch.


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