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Former South students placed on probation

February 24, 2005

A judge placed three former South Hagerstown High School students on indefinite supervised probation Wednesday after they admitted to spraying paint at South High this fall.

The boys, ages 16, 17 and 18, admitted to malicious destruction of property worth more than $500 in connection with the Nov. 7, 2004, vandalism of the school's buildings and signs.

In some places, South's name was crossed out and North or NHHS was written in paint. Other graffiti included derogatory messages about South High and a racial epithet, Hagerstown Police Department Sgt. Curt Wood has said.

Following the incident, the school's principal, Richard Akers, said the youths were suspended indefinitely from school.

The boys said they now attend Evening High School.

Washington County Circuit Judge Frederick C. Wright III, sitting in juvenile court, asked the 16-year-old why the group decided to vandalize their school.

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The boy initially said, "There really is no reason - just something stupid."

Wright then told him, "At my age, I have gotten far away from understanding why anybody goes on sprees to damage and destroy someone else's property ... I just don't understand the mind-set. 'I don't know' - that's bull. There's got to be a reason why they do it."

The boy then told Wright: "It was mainly aimed as a prank."

"To embarrass North High?" Wright asked.

The boy nodded and said, "Because we lost quite badly."

He was referring to the North High football team's 39-0 win against South High in Hagerstown's Gridiron Championship Classic at School Stadium, which was held the Friday prior to the vandalism on South High's campus.

Wright told the youth, "You ended up causing damage to the very people you were trying to support."

The 17-year-old paid $2,000 Wednesday toward his third of the $15,000 owed in restitution to the Washington County Board of Education.

Wright told the youths that the sooner they make restitution, the sooner they will be taken off of probation.

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