Illinois high school students hire a bagpiper to follow the principal


No one does old-school pranks like a group of seniors at an Illinois high school who hired a professional bagpiper to shadow their principal for an hour.

It didn't take much convincing to get Scott Whitman, a pipe major for Celtic Cross Pipes and Drums, on board. He liked the idea from the start.

“I taught high school for seven years. We all know what senior pranks can look like. Some can be destructive, others leave a mess. I had a lot of respect that they came up with something that avoided all of that and was funny.” Whitman shared this with the Peoria Journal Star, part of the USA TODAY Network.

For Whitman, who usually plays at funerals, weddings and birthdays, the request came as quite a surprise. It was his first senior prank request.

“I probably played through 20 different tunes. I played through my entire repertoire. He (Robison) goes fast. I felt like I was jogging, but it was a great sport. The classrooms were empty, people were laughing, dancing, “It was great. I loved it,” Whitman shared.

Billy Robison, principal of Richwoods High School in Peoria, was followed through the school halls from 10 to 11 a.m. last Thursday.

“I had a great time with the guy, he was phenomenal. Teachers came out of classrooms to see what was going on. The kids get involved,” Robison said.

The mariachi band was expensive and remote

Tennis-playing seniors Maggie Moore and Pierce Hill scrolled through Pinterest to get inspiration for senior pranks.

“I was looking at mariachi bands… the idea was to let her (Robison) walk around. But it was near Cinco de Mayo and the prices were really high, and they were all based in Chicago,” Moore shared.

Bagpipes came to mind as Moore began to think about other possibilities. She thought about how much she loved playing Scottish music as a child. “It was Plan B, but it worked better,” she said.

Moore and Pierce did a quick Facebook search and landed on Celtic Cross Pipes and Drums, a group of accomplished musicians.

“Everyone loved it. People started dancing to it, clapping and following it. He walked from the main office into the gym, then up the stairs to the top floor, down and out and a block out. Probably a mile and a half,” Hill said.

Richwoods High tennis coach Terry Cole said the seniors did it right. They floated the idea to him and then-athletic director Jeff Crusen and coordinated it with school administrators while keeping Robison in the dark.

“I thought it was hysterical,” Cole said. “There's this one part where Billy is walking around the gym trying to talk to someone while the bagpiper is playing behind him.” The bagpiper never asked for anything. Maggie got him a $100 gift card. The whole thing was light-hearted and fun.

The best prank ever

Moore and Hill accomplished a difficult feat. They carried out a well-thought-out prank in which “nothing was broken, no one was hurt and no mess had to be cleaned up,” Principal Robison said.

It will forever be known as “the best prank ever…I loved it.”

“I love bagpipes. The children didn't know that. He came into the office, started playing and said, 'I'll follow you for an hour.' I said, ‘Okay, let’s go.’ He gave the kids what they deserved. Everyone had a great time,” Robison shared.

The clip of the prank got people talking online and cemented its place as a solid prank.

“It was a lot better than I hoped,” Moore shared. “I didn’t know they would be so loud. In the end we went outside. Mr. Robison was thrilled.”

Anna Harden

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