You have just taken a math test, and your head is still filled with the various equations and postulates that you had to memorize. You walk down into the foyer imagining what you are going to do over the weekend. The sweet thoughts of laziness are invaded by the foulest smell from the depths of a public bathroom. The feeling of nausea surrounds, and you can not fathom what produced this smell. You look on the ground and see the empty packet of a stink bomb lying on the floor.

“It makes me want to throw up,” said freshman Steven Pien.

The remnants of the stink bombs largely go unnoticed on the floor of the foyer.
The remnants of the stink bombs largely go unnoticed on the floor of the foyer.

The frequent detonations of stink bombs in Andover High have some students both angry and disgusted. Most of the stink bombs have been released at dismissal time in the foyer and at lunch time, disrupting what many think is their only break in the day.

Students report that they have seen multiple types of stink bombs used. Some report seeing a plastic package, liquid from a bottle, and even an egg. The smell is extremely powerful, and most of the time the foyer completely empties out into the bus circle because of the pungent aroma.  Many teachers think that this behavior needs to stop.

Substitute teacher Mr. Drummond said, “Kids shouldn’t be doing pranks like this; it’s immature.”

School administrators have been trying to pinpoint the origin of these stink bombs, but assistant principal Mr. Seide admits that it is very challenging because of the many variables that go into finding the culprit(s). He said, “It is very challenging because of the location and the amount of students.”

Increased activity in the lunchroom and foyer does pose a problem, because many students trample anything in their path and would not notice someone dropping a small plastic package or bottle.

Stink bombs are extremely low-priced, selling for as low as one penny.

The science of a simple prank stink bomb is simple, the package or bottle contains ammonium sulfide, a chemical that mimics the smell of rotten eggs. The sulfur rich chemical reacts with the moisture in the air and produces the foul smell.

To exemplify the ignorance of students while walking, we conducted an experiment in the foyer after lunch had ended.  We blew up a small balloon and walked together with the crowd. We then casually dropped the balloon straight into the middle of the increased activity. Every student observed did not look at the balloon as it fell, and no one stopped to pick it up or move it out of the way. After waiting for about one minute, a loud pop was heard, as some unwary feet stepped on to the balloon. This part of the experiment demonstrated how long it took people to realize that a disturbance had occurred. 

While a majority of students believe that the stink bombs are disgusting, some people just aren’t disturbed by it. Junior Tim Hairston said, “It’s kind of funny. It doesn’t bother me.”

While a smell reminiscent to rotting poultry products may be funny to a select few, the punishment is certainly nothing to laugh about. Mr. Seide said, “The punishment would either be some detentions, or a suspension, leaning more to the side of suspensions.” He added that the suspension would relate to the student handbook section, under “disruption of school.” Page 46 in the student handbook states, “Students who willfully create a disruption within the school building, on school grounds or at school-sponsored events, fieldtrips, and athletic events, will be given up to five detentions, a Saturday Detention or Suspension based upon the circumstance and the student’s overall discipline record.”

Mr. Seide also said that the administration has interviewed and searched some students for evidence relating to the release of the stink bombs. Mr. Seide also stated that they had found students in possession of stink bombs, and that the investigation is ongoing. Hall monitors have also been stationed at vantage points to increase the possibility of catching the culprit.

That can’t come a moment too soon for some. As freshman Alyssa Casey bluntly put it, “This indescribable scent needs to come to an end.”

By Sam Bird and Isaac Finn