COLUMBUS — Lakeview Superintendent Russ Freeman is well aware of the school’s deep agricultural roots.
Students at the rural Columbus junior/senior high school drive tractors to school one day each year as part of an annual tradition to promote agriculture and they recently transformed an area farm into an outdoor petting zoo to show hundreds of kindergartners what country life is like.
Freeman knows what the students who grew up on farms and passionately support their FFA chapter are capable of.
Yet, he wasn’t prepared for their latest stunt.
Eight members of the senior class, set to graduate Sunday, decided to bring a little agriculture to their school one final time before receiving their diplomas.
The students, led by Sam Morse, filled the faculty parking lot with cornstalk bales early Friday morning, giving staff members and passersby quite the surprise as the rising sun revealed their scheme.
“We decided to leave a mark that was agriculturally related,” said Morse, who plotted the overnight prank with fellow seniors Colton Wilke, Taylor Engel, Tim Kummer, Cade Behlen, Hayden Holmberg, Liz Loseke and Hannah Maurer.
“We wanted to do something that would be hard to beat in the future,” Morse added.
The group, equipped with a team of tractors and pickups pulling gooseneck trailers, began loading the cornstalk bales — 65 in all — around 10:30 p.m. Thursday at a feedlot owned by Morse’s neighbor.
By 1:15 a.m. Friday, every faculty parking stall on the school’s south side had a bale parked in it and nine more were stacked behind the Lakeview High School sign with the message “2014” scrolled across the bundles of cattle feed in large, blue and black font.
When Freeman and other staff members began arriving about six hours later, it was clear they wouldn’t be using their standard parking spaces that day.
“I thought it looked pretty large and intimidating,” Freeman said while describing his initial reaction. “That’s a lot of bales.”
The district’s superintendent called the prank a “pretty clever” way to make a statement without causing any damage to school property.
Although it was a minor inconvenience for some, who had to use the student parking lot on the school’s west side, Freeman said most staff members found humor in the situation and many were outside taking photos of the scene.
“It was kind of a media deal there for a while,” he said.
Morse cleared the prank with the Platte County Sheriff’s Office and a member of the school district’s administration to avoid any potential problems.
The students also voluntarily removed the bales after graduation practice late Friday morning, but not before they gathered for a senior class photo to remember the moment.
“They would have never been able to move them,” Morse said.
The school district is not considering any form of punishment for the pranksters.
“If that’s as bad as it gets, I can live with that,” Freeman said.