HEARD COUNTY, Ga. - A group of high-school seniors from Heard County took a senior prank too far when they spraypainted an American flag and hung it at the school's student entrance.
News of the flag, which said "Seniors 2018," spread quickly through social media, and the Heard County High School took action immediately.
In the heart of the city of Franklin is Veterans Park, a place to honor veterans who are still with those, and those who have passed. So needless to say when a picture of a desecrated flag appeared on social media people were outraged.
That included Heard County High School Principal Brent Tisdale
"My initial thought for five days suspension, no prom, and all that, but that I don't think was teaching them what we wanted to do," Tisdale said.
Tisdale says after speaking with the five seniors responsible, he realized the students didn't realize what they had done. And they didn't understand the connection between the flag and our veterans.
"I called Chief Hannah and said 'Do you have any veterans working right now that can come talk to these kids?' We had a couple of firefighters, police and took the boys into an empty room and let the vets explain to them what the flag means to them," he says.
Veteran Nikki Culpepper was one of the people who spoke to the students. She showed the students a picture of Arlington Cemetery where he grandfather is buried.
"We talked about how we chose to voluntarily defend the flag and their right to do what they did to it, as well as family and friends and loved ones who come home underneath that flag," she said.
Culpepper said the students were very remorseful.
"Two of the young people had tears in their eyes. shook our hands and apologized."
Tisdale says the boys learned a valuable lesson today
"They understand what they did was wrong. The intent was not to be disrespectful, but they understand how it was perceived that way," he said