PORTSMOUTH — The annual senior pranks endured by Portsmouth High School band director Ted Rausch, while sometimes embarrassing to him, were at least performed away from the public spotlight.
That all changed Friday night.
During their “Star Wars”-themed halftime show in front of hundreds at Friday night’s big football win over Barrington, senior musicians suddenly removed their plumes and replaced them with large photographs of Mr. Rausch as well as drum line instructor Tim Marum, dance team and color guard coordinator Lisa Mailloux and concert band director Donna Valente.
While watching the surprise spectacle from the sidelines, Mr. Rausch turned to one of his volunteers, Ralph Craft.
“I hate you,” he said, shaking his head as Mr. Craft smiled back.
The Craft family was mostly responsible for the prank, which was performed on senior night for the band and football team.
“(My dad) kind of came up with the idea and we just went with it,” said Darby Craft, one of the band’s senior drum majors. “We didn’t know it was going to turn out like that, but it turned out really well.”
The family made 50 8×10 photographs for the seniors to wear. “We made an extra 50 and just gave those out to everybody,” said Darby.
The pièce de résistance were four huge photos — 3×4-foot head shots of the adults — that were attached to the “Death Star” used in the show. After their performance, band students signed the goofy portraits.
Laura Blanchette, another senior drum major, said band members took it easy on Mr. Rausch this year.
“It was harmless; he can’t even be mad at us,” she said.
The tradition of pranking the director started several years ago during a band trip to New York, where students built a wall of soda cans outside his hotel room door. Other pranks have included everything from moving Mr. Rausch’s car so he’d think it had been stolen — he wasn’t too happy about that one — to decorating his room with piñatas and staging an elaborate “wedding ceremony” between two students on a Bermuda cruise ship.
Friday’s practical joke, however, was the most public one yet.
After the game Mr. Rausch said the joke came out of left field.
“That was the last thing that I would ever expect — to see my bobble head on the top of the marching band helmets. Seeing it on the ‘Death Star’ was ridiculous.
“It amazes me that these kids never fail to surprise me.”