The Student-Run Newspaper of Townsend Harris High School at Queens College

The Classic

53° Flushing, NY
The Student-Run Newspaper of Townsend Harris High School at Queens College

The Classic

The Student-Run Newspaper of Townsend Harris High School at Queens College

The Classic

40th Anniversary Throwbacks: The Classic publishes a cockroach-related April Fools prank on readers in 1998

An+image+of+a+cockroach%2C+courtesy+of+Pixabay+Content+License
Dirk Schumacher
An image of a cockroach, courtesy of Pixabay Content License
HTML tutorial

This article was first published in the April Fool’s Edition of The Classic. It is from Volume 14, No. 4, April 1, 1998. This farcical article invents a situation where cockroaches roam Townsend Harris’s halls after escaping from a science lab. Today while cockroaches are not necessarily infesting the school, there are certainly some to be found, with or without a ‘lab leak’ conspiracy. In 1998, the Townsend Harris school building was only a couple of years old, making this April Fool’s article’s premise somewhat idyllic in comparison to today’s reality in the building. Throughout the year, The Classic will be celebrating the paper’s fortieth anniversary by republishing articles that have never appeared online. See the original article below and see it in print here

Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary calls them “nocturnal insects” or “domestic pests.” The average timid freshman calls them “gross,” and Matlock Anzel, the only chemistry teacher in the school who is also a licensed lawyer, could call them a potential law suit. But biology teacher Yodel Garcia lovingly describes them as her pet “cucarachas.” All Townsend Harris students can tell a story of the first time they laid eyes on the Science Department’s infamous cockroaches. But for all the laughs those tales are worth, no one’s laughing now with the custodial staff’s confirmation last Thursday that approximately 30 of these “creepy crawlers” are freely roaming the halls of the school.

The original article as it appeared in the April 1998 edition of The Classic.

The escape of the cockroaches was first discovered by math teacher John Burnt-Sienna, who was with his often talked about brother-in-law, Jack Smith, at the time. The two were touring the new building in honor of Smith’s first visit to New York. As they entered the cafeteria, they noticed a family of the slippery brown creatures making their way to Stella’s Harrisite Concession Site.

“Soon after, I had a talk with Mr. Currant about what I saw and he seemed surprised,” said Mr. Burnt-Sienna. It wasn’t until Mr. Burnt-Sienna’s conversation with Berry Currant, the head of the Science Department, that the assistant principal was aware of the insects’ disappearance. After close inspection of the cockroaches’ tank, Mr. Currant believes that there was sabotage involved. School administrators have identified a large tear in the screen top of the tank. Still, it is unclear as to why the cockroaches were released and who the culprits were. “The investigation continues,” said Mr. Currant.

Meanwhile, Students Against Animal Cruelty (SAAC) is in an uproar over proposals from the Board of Education suggesting that pest control services be sent in to exterminate the cockroaches. The animal rights club has begun to circulate petitions during lunch bands requesting that the board reconsider this action. A representative for the Board of Education said, “The petitions certainly will be taken into consideration, but the board will vote on the final decision.”

The Student Union (SU) has set up what they call a “Pet Pest Patrol.” This search team is made up of volunteers who spend hours after school looking for and recapturing cockroaches. So far, the group has caught 67. Although the patrol currently consists of only five members, more are expected to join upon Archon’s announcement, to be broadcast over the loudspeaker system tomorrow, that work in the search party will be counted as community service.

Stefan Pullitover, a sophomore with an extensive background in insect studies, said, “Taking into consideration the daily diet of lunchroom crumbs, I predict that there will be more than enough food to allow them to survive. Even if they should make their way up to the sixth floor,” he explained, “there are plenty of leftover lab lunches to feed on and the occasional half piece of chewed gum.”

Original satirical advertisement that was published along with this article in April 1998.

Principal Milkem Tallman remains in constant phone contact with New York City health officials advising from the sanitary risks of the cockroaches. He says his office has been overwhelmed with calls from concerned parents. “Most parents are worried, not so much about the health hazard, but rather that the cockroaches may disturb the learning environment of their children,” said Dr. Tallman. “Imagine the awkward situation I’ll be faced with at the next Parent/Teachers meeting when I try to explain that the cockroaches were here to begin with and furthermore belong in our brand-new building!”

However, there is a positive side to all the excitement. In upcoming months, Dr. Tallman hopes to incorporate the incident into the school’s curriculum. Biology teachers will explain the reproductive cycle with cockroaches as their models and math teachers will have their students calculate the insects’ rate of reproduction. In addition, all English classes will write short stories featuring cockroaches as main characters.

Dr. Tallman offers students and staff one piece of advice: “Be careful where you walk.”

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Classic
$1300
$1500
Contributed
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists of The Classic. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment, support our extracurricular events, celebrate our staff, print the paper periodically, and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Classic
$1300
$1500
Contributed
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All SNO Design Snapshots Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *