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'I Am Extremely Sorry,' Herndon Senior Says

How a senior prank went wrong—and a confusing series of events led to #Lettheboyswalk2012.

Ashkan Naedri says he would make a speech apologizing to the whole school.

Chris Shoemaker says he regrets everything. His father says an appropriate penalty would be to make Chris and five other boys accused of plotting a baby oil prank last week at scrub the urinals with a toothbrush while their classmates watched.

Just let them walk at graduation, they say.

Shoemaker and Naderi are two of three Herndon High School seniors

Three other students accused of helping plan—but not participating in—the prank have been suspended for three days and will be able to take part in graduation.

The case has sparked discussion of what exactly happened and whether the punishment is too harsh. It's also sparked a local Twitter trend—#lettheboyswalk2012—not to mention t-shirts with the same message.

"I think graduation should be a reward for 13 years of being a good student," said Bob Shoemaker, whose youngest child, Chris, is an honor roll student and a 6-foot-5 center on the varsity basketball team.

"This showed very poor judgment," he added. "My son is remorseful. He offered several times to clean it up. No doubt, it was a dumb thing to do. They did not have any malicious intent. They did not think through the potential for danger."

Naderi, also a Herndon basketball player, said there was a lot that was not thought out about the prank. He says pranks are a longstanding tradition at the school, and that the group only came up with the idea the day before. The plan was to get some big bottles of baby oil and then come out a few minutes before second period and empty them in the main hall.

Five minutes into the prank—and with only about 5 oz. spilled onto the floor, Naderi said he was "caught red-handed."

"Today’s incidents caused a major safety concern for every student and adult in the building,” Herndon Principal William Bates wrote in a letter to school families. "Any student who is caught engaging in these types of disruptive behaviors will face a suspension from the school and possible recommendation for expulsion.”

Said Naderi: "At the end of the day, no one got hurt. I am extremely sorry."

Both boys say they were involved with the baby oil incident only. Confusing the situation: there was graffiti painted on the school last Tuesday night and a fire alarm was pulled shortly after the baby oil incident.

Both students maintain they had nothing to do with either of those. In fact, they were being questioned by school staff when the alarm was pulled, they said.

"When someone pulled the alarm, that changed the whole picture," said Bob Shoemaker. "I assure you, the boys did not think that far ahead."

Meanwhile, Bob Shoemaker said that a school security officer changed his son's statement. Chris Shoemaker was also patted down and checked for a weapon, Bob Shoemaker said.

"My son wrote a statement and admitted his part, but it did not include pouring the baby oil," he said. "He had second thoughts and did not pour it. He and another student returned to class. The security officer changed his statement after Chris signed it from admission of purchasing baby oil to one of admitting guilt and pouring the oil."

The Shoemakers have an appeal hearing scheduled for later this week. Bob Shoemaker said he thinks a fair punishment would be a uniform suspension for all. He said he hopes to get his son's penalty reduced to a three-day suspension and that Chris will be allowed to walk at graduation.

"I think that is a reasonable compromise," he said. 

Chris Shoemaker's graduation gown sits ready to go, pending the appeals hearing.

Naderi—who was the only student caught in the act—is not holding out such hope. On Monday, he was told his suspension stands.

"Mr. Bates told my mom I can come get my cap and gown and take it home to take pictures," he said. "That's not going to be the same."

Naderi says he will be the first in his family to head to college. He hasn't shared the news yet with his father, who is working in Iran and scheduled to travel back to Virginia for Herndon's graduation.

"He will be devastated," he said. "So we are trying to hold off."

St. Jude Square Artworks June 13, 2012 at 02:14 AM
REALLY bad idea, that prank, because someone could truly have been hurt!. Punishment is called for, but not denying graduation. I remember some pranks "back in the day" that were quite amazing. My brother's class ( I think) assembled a car in the middle intersection of the hallways! I think another class (mine??) put a car on top of the school itself. Or am I so old I'm just inventing these memories?
Robert Beason June 13, 2012 at 06:31 AM
The final decision will be decided on whether or not if these bozos have a parent with the Federal Government. There no longer exists a Public servant and democracy is being drowned by the salaries of those fortunate to have a Government job.
Scott June 13, 2012 at 05:15 PM
In case you missed it: Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/senior-prank-may-cause-students-to-miss-graduation/2012/06/12/gJQAxwBcYV_story.html?tid=pm_local_pop
Uncle Smartypants June 13, 2012 at 05:16 PM
No, St. Jude, you remember right. We also had fun with teachers' cars, mostly the really small, light ones, like MGs. If you put 20 or so guys around them, you could lift and carry them. Teacher would laugh and then make you carry it back. Good times.
Uncle Smartypants June 13, 2012 at 05:41 PM
We had baby oil in high school in the mid-70s, but it was something we brought with us on dates. We would call it optimism.
Scott June 13, 2012 at 05:46 PM
or wishful thinking... LOL!!
JMS June 13, 2012 at 05:48 PM
Now they just use KY. Or lubricated condoms. Doesn't mess your pants up as much.
Uncle Smartypants June 13, 2012 at 05:59 PM
I'm glad you brought this up, JMS, because I really think we need to discuss the relative viscosity of the offending lubricant. Reading these comments, it's obvious that most people think a little baby oil will turn a synthetic tile floor (of the sort favored by institutions) into a sheet of ice. This is just not true. KY and Astroglide, sure, but baby oil is just not that slippery. So measuring the punishment to the crime, this fact should diminish the consequences of this ridiculously petty offense.
Laurie Dodd June 13, 2012 at 06:36 PM
Thanks. I appreciate seeing some better reporting on this incident, though I am not sure it deserves this high a profile.
Laurie Dodd June 13, 2012 at 07:01 PM
Herndon students were just told that exam period will be cut short by ten minutes tomorrow. "Locker Clean Out" was supposed to happen last week, but the baby oil and fire alarm incidents made that impossible. My daughter's math class (and all other students with fifth period classes) will suffer, since they will have less time to complete the same exam that took other students the full time to complete. So I am not interested in hearing anyone else say that this "prank" caused no harm.
LWE June 13, 2012 at 07:56 PM
"This whole situation is ridiculous. You don't get to walk if you don't attend graduation practices, you don't get to walk if you haven't paid your school library fees...This isn't much different." -KH Holla'!! I go to the school and I'm graduating tomorrow. Everyone knows the threat for stepping a hair's width out-of-line during the end of the school year is losing the privilege to walk at graduation. These boys have stepped much farther out of line than that. At this point, it would be a punishment for everyone else's families if they're allowed to walk now, since the whole ceremony's focus will then be shifted to the 6/600 students who pulled the prank rather than the 594/600 students who did -nothing- wrong! #WeAreThe594
John Farrell June 13, 2012 at 08:19 PM
It appears the SRO editorialized on the bottom of the page on which the child's statement was written. The SRO should have used another piece of paper to record his viewpoint.
John Farrell June 13, 2012 at 09:12 PM
Glad you saw it, Scott, especially where the national secondary school principal association spokesperson called - "not walking" is a "nuclear option," clearly to be used for truly serious situations, with the fairly clear implication that the baby oil doesn't rise to that level. Which goes to my point here, this incident is an example of how the FCPS discipline system is dysfunctionally harsh for no good purpose. It was heartening to read so many experts quoted in the Post agreeing with that perspective. My zealotry on this derives from the 18 year struggle to get change initiated in that harmful system.
Burke Mom June 13, 2012 at 09:14 PM
This is a lesson in accountability and taking responsibility for one's actions. Teens always say they 'don't want to be treated like little kids'. Well, welcome to the real world, gentlemen. They should have all (6) been held accountable for personally cleaning up the mess. The real wake-up call will be if any of the colleges they've been accepted to decide to revoke their admission out of concern for their demonstrated lack of maturity and poor judgement--it could happen!
Scott June 13, 2012 at 09:21 PM
It is on WTOP and WUSA9 too. John he did not say the the Baby Oil did not rise to the level of nuclear option. You see what you want to see - as is the case 99,9% of the time you post! It is all about John Farrell and his superior assessment and no one else matters. John have you ever worked in a classroom? Be assured I do not agree with you on this and many things in days of late that you have posted.
John Farrell June 13, 2012 at 09:34 PM
The direct quote is: "unless irreparable harm is done, he said, he looks for consequences apart from graduation ceremonies: community service, for example or missing a graduation-related party" So, who is seeing what they want to see? How many more boys have to die before we fix this broken FCPS system?
Scott June 13, 2012 at 09:49 PM
John - I am not going to argue with you. The potential for harm was present. PERIOD! You are the most argumentative person I have had the displeasure to correspond with! I am assuming as I have asked the question many times, have you ever worked in a classroom? As you avoid the answer must be no. So all your theory is nothing but a bunch of hot air nothing more nothing less. Armchair Quarterback comes to mind!! Oh and how I enjoyed the drama you added "How many more boys have to die before we fix this broken FCPS system?" Nice touch!! As others have done when dealing with you - I will not respond again because we all know you will have to have the last word. According to Topix Herndon News - Topix www.topix.com/city/herndon-va10 minutes ago – A group of Herndon High School seniors have been told they won't be able to walk at their graduation because of pranks they played at the ...
John Farrell June 13, 2012 at 10:39 PM
A lawyer is argumentative?! Call out the State Bar! To answer an irrelevant question, I've taught eighth graders and I've been a youth sports coach and I am the father of 4, including 2 boys. I've also been approached more that 30 times by families facing sanctions from FCPS. I turn them all down because the situation is so totally hopeless. Maybe if you heard half of those stories you'd be as argumentative as I. Maybe if you met Josh Anderson, when he was alive, you'd be a zealous as I. Maybe if you met Steve Stuban and his wife who suffers from ALS, you'd be as relentless as I. Maybe that's why I'm willing to post here under my real name. Because this mistreatment of our children by FCPS, and its mostly of our boys, has got to stop. We've got to change the FCPS discipline paradigm from vengeance and retribution to restoration and education. I'd hope you'd support that.
Bert Katz June 14, 2012 at 03:29 AM
Well, guess who gets to have the last word...AGAIN...?
LFM June 14, 2012 at 03:50 AM
During a viewing of the senior slide show by the graduating class a couple of days ago, the only one of the "boys" who had pictures included got roundly and close to unanimously booed. It's likely the rousing applause would come from a very small group.
John Farrell June 14, 2012 at 04:30 AM
not you, Bert
Eric Metcalf June 14, 2012 at 10:36 AM
Psst, don't tell John Farrell, but someone post under his last comment. LOL!
Eric Metcalf June 14, 2012 at 10:38 AM
VERY well stated. The actions of the minority should not have an influence on how people look at the majority of the Class of 2012. I wager to say because of their actions, some of these boys should take the first two letters out of "Class of 2012" and call themselves that.
Bert Katz June 14, 2012 at 12:00 PM
Oh NO...not that...LOL squared...
John Farrell June 14, 2012 at 03:39 PM
on to the next Patch story on this topic
Karen Goff June 14, 2012 at 03:50 PM
New one up today in case you did not see it - suspension still stands for Chris Shoemaker, who appealed it. Is there another angle you would like to see covered? If not, we are likely done, though Herndon Patch will be at the actual ceremony today to cover graduation as usual.
PHYLLIS PILKINS June 14, 2012 at 04:21 PM
Get over it and let these boys walk One day they may be President besides the ones so against them lm sure in their day did worse and just didnt get caught, But oh know you were the perfect child RIGHT!! and have the perfect children RIGHT!!!! Get-over-it!
Eric Metcalf June 14, 2012 at 04:35 PM
I think the problem is that now, letting the 3 guys walk would be more of a distraction to the 500+ who weren't disciplined. Let everyone else have their moment and now they'll all have something interesting to talk about at class reunions.
Will Ivey June 15, 2012 at 07:18 AM
I totally agree with the Principal's decision. The kids had been warned of the consequences of these actions. What if someone had fallen due to their "joke" and got hurt. A person could even get paralyzed what if a pregnant woman had fallen on the oiled floor. It’s not about “it didn’t happen this time”. Those things have happened to others and these kids should be wised enough to think in the consequences of their actions before acting. Parents said they were good kids for 13 years?? They should be GOOD KIDS ALWAYS.
The Chef June 15, 2012 at 02:22 PM
Given that they were aware of the consequences before they decided to try this prank, I agree that the school should carry this out, lest students would walk all over adminstration. It's not like they don't actually get to graduate; they just can't walk, right? That being said, however, I believe the school could and should consider in the future to implement more fitting consequences to this offense. Not letting a student participate in a ceremony in which he has rightfully made the grades and completed the required curriculum to have earned the experience, because of a prank that almost happened, does not seem like a punishment that fits the crime. Since the prank would have been dangerous to the school community and staff and would have been a disservice to everyone, wouldn't it be more fitting to have a community service/cleaning oriented punishment that actually benefits the community as a whole? It seems to be a more appropriate reaction, which teaches pranksters a lesson that their pranks actually affect other people. Now, they are more likely only thinking about how this is affecting them (and their immediate families), and possibly not giving a second thought to the community of people they almost endangered.

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