Zero’s Kill, People

We take a look back at a Stuyvesant prank from the past that went less-than-well for the perpetrator.

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Oh yes, it’s that time of the year again when everyone lies to each other’s faces and we call it comedy. Whether you’re a famous YouTuber brutally and sadistically demolishing your cameraman’s car just to buy him a lambo a few hours later or a schoolteacher whimsically telling students that they have a pop quiz, everyone loves a little bit of pranking when April comes around. To celebrate the occasion, I thought it would be appropriate to look back at an April Fools’ Day prank of another time, a time of spectacular sneakiness and slyness not too dissimilar to that of today.

Dr. Fremble used to be a teacher at our fine establishment, but he wasn’t a particularly beloved one. Infamous among his students for his bald spot of 4.5 centimeters in diameter and his squeaky Mickey Mouse voice, most found him to be utterly devoid of any other interesting qualities. One time, he got so desperate for some semblance of attention that he began asking random students if they wanted him to write a college recommendation letter for them, a proposition that was unanimously denied. Searching for other ways to improve his reputation, he asked his fellow teachers for advice. When someone mentioned the upcoming holiday of April Fools’ Day, Fremble stood straight up with a surprised expression of glee. He remained in that state for about twelve seconds before “dashing out of the Teachers’ Lounge like one of those goofy cartoons, but failing and banging his head on the vending machine,” reported an unfortunate witness.

Fremble missed the next two days of school, March 31 and April 1, calling in “sick,” “for purposes of concocting a devious little plan of epic proportions,” in the man’s very own words. At 3:41 p.m. that Friday afternoon, the first of many students opened up their report card to find that Fremble had given them a zero: an insulting, fat d0nut, staring them in their ugly little eyes. Over the course of a few days, Dr. Fremble’s e-mail address received sixty-eight messages, sixty-three of which described a “Grading Error” or “Nervous Breakdown” in the subject, and sixty-four of which called him a bald and dumb loser. One particularly striking e-mail read as follows:

“Dear Mr. Fremble,

I hope you are doing well. The reason for my letter is that I recently noticed the grade you gave me on my report card (thank you for giving me such a nice comment haha!), but I feel that something may be off. You see, I have hitherto exclusively received a grade of A+ on all of the exams in your course. For that reason, I find it striking that I would suddenly fail the course, and in such a manner as you had reported, no less. Please, will you fix the issue? My grades are very important to me, and if you cannot resolve the issue as soon as possible, my father might see the zero, and Daddy does not like a zero to end his work week. I find your error inappropriate, for how could you be so careless to punish a sweet, pretty little boy like me?”

Another letter had a more serious approach:

“I’ve already asked around, and it seems like you think our grades are a joke. Let me fill you in: whatever stunt you’re pulling is the most unfunny thing your football-shaped head could have come up with. I live for my grades. Every morning when I wake up, I wonder how my life could possibly get any worse. This question is answered when I perform a semi-hourly gaze into my beautiful report card of all 100s. I recognize that my life would mean nothing if my grades dropped, and that is exactly what your tiny prank has done. Fix my grades, or that gaping bald spot won’t be the only hole in your head you need to worry about.”

But alas, Dr. Fremble was dedicated to his craft and wanted to push the prank to its limits, despite the strong initial reaction. By Monday, the Principal and various counselors had warned Fremble that they had received hundreds of complaints regarding the issue, and that his students may begin to show a lack of productivity in class. Productivity would be the least of Fremble’s worries, and it turned out that these few days of waiting would push the Stuy students to new levels of desperation. In the span of 36 hours, students had banded together and paid a street artist a total of $37 to create a mural above the entrance to the school, depicting Fremble in a not-so-gracious manner with devil horns and a copious amount of body fat. Fremble started bawling hysterically when he saw the mural and had to be dragged into the building by a gaggle of security guards. But that was only the start of his struggles.

Once in the building, Fremble bore witness to hundreds of posters on all the walls and ceilings, each of them depicting the teacher’s monstrous sphere of baldness. In a pathetic display, Fremble, in between sobs, began tearing town each poster one by one. “It was like watching a toddler pick up his building blocks after they fell. I also remember being surprised by the sheer volume of liquid being excreted from his orifices,” reported one eyewitness.

After quickly realizing that his efforts were futile, Fremble turned and ran towards the exit, a run described by a witness as like a “rooster chasing his hen combined with a chihuahua swimming through the ocean.”

But right as he was about to leave, 130 or so teenagers appeared from the dark shadows of the outside world and pressed their faces against the thin glass doors that separated the school from Manhattan. They were no longer well-behaved, conforming students, but rather ravenous beasts, obsessed with either getting a 100 or destroying the man who stopped that from happening.

At this point, all others in the building had evacuated except for Fremble, who was frozen with fear, baffled by the effects of the prank he had tried so hard to execute. But then, the glass started to crack. Security cameras picked up Fremble’s awkward frame shuffling through the hallways, trying to avoid the mass of students closing in on him. Eventually, he locked himself in a janitor’s closet on the fourth floor. It did not take much time for the horde to trace his scent to this area, however, and Fremble thought his life was to come to an end at the hands of these revenge-hungry students.

As the students were tearing away at the locked door, Fremble was almost brought to tears again before an idea popped into his head. He pulled out his gradebook, flipped to the page where he listed his classes’ class averages, and changed all the zeros to 100s. Instantaneously, the scratching on the door stopped; in fact, all noise ceased, and Fremble exhaled a deep breath as he heard dozens of sneakers shuffling down the linoleum hallway. A few minutes later, he built up the courage to leave the closet and was shocked to see just how trashed the place was: windows were smashed, doors were broken in half, walls were punched through, and there were dozens of bite marks on every door frame.

And that, my friends, is what caused the Stuyvesant High School building change of 1987. You can read more about the story in Dr. Pantholeon L. Fremble’s book, “I Survived the Wrath of Stuyvesant.”