By Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice on September 20, 2021
On Friday, Sept. 17, a false fire alarm was pulled at First Flight High School. According to Dare Schools Digital Communications Director Keith Parker, the other recent acts of vandalism at the school include damage to a door exit sign and a surveillance camera covering.
Asked if there had been an uptick in student vandalism at the High School, Parker responded via email that, “To my knowledge, there has not been a significant increase in vandalism at First Flight High School.” He also said the individual who pulled the alarm and the one who damaged the exit sign have been identified and disciplined.
But the question is whether these are just isolated incidents at the school or part of a destructive social media trend that is going viral nationally. That trend was chronicled in this Sept. 18 New York Times story that characterized the rise in high school students damaging or stealing school property and posting the videos as “Tik Tok’s latest craze.”
When the Voice asked whether the vandalism has occurred at First Flight recently could be part of that pattern, Parker responded that, “At this time, First Flight High School administrators do not have reason to believe these recent incidents are related to any national social media trends.”
But on Sept. 18, First Flight High School’s student publication, the Nighthawk News, published a prominent “commentary” that was described as a staff editorial. It directly addressed that Tik Tok craze, declaring that while “starting as a harmless, albeit amusing, TikTok, the ‘devious lick’ challenge has begun escalating far past what it was initially intended to be. Students started with stealing soap dispensers. Criminal activity, but relatively harmless. As the trend grew in popularity, more and more people were stealing items of higher value from their school, and wreaking havoc in the process.”
While not mentioning any events at First Flight High School, the editorial cautioned against furthering the trend, noting that “the only suitable solution to combat this problem is to stop encouraging the ‘devious’ behavior. If you don’t give people the dopamine rush of views and likes, chances are, they’ll stop committing these actions, we’d hope.”
Something else that occurred on Sept. 17 at First Flight High School was the circulating of an email from the school’s administration to staff stating that rather than have students continue to pick up their lunches, the nutrition staff now would be delivering them to classrooms beginning Monday, Sept. 20.
Parker stated that “the primary reason for this change” is COVID related, designed “to limit student movement during lunches to help reduce possible quarantine.” But he acknowledged that some of the impetus for the policy change had to deal with the vandalism.
“Our school administrators are aware of a national social media trend that involves students engaged in school vandalism,” the email read. “While we have not seen an increase in this trend at First Flight High School, the change in lunch policy, in addition to limiting quarantine, is also intended as a proactive measure to ensure that students continue to show respect for school facilities.”