Initially, he thought it was a joke.
“Hey Thomas! I’m a news producer at KCTV5. We’d love to chat with you today about your GoFundMe on the urinal at East.”
There was no way this woman could be a news producer, much less want to talk to him about how he broke a urinal. But upon further inspection of her profile, he realized it was legit. Two hours later the news crew arrived at his apartment. The segment aired the next day on Jan. 25.
Senior Thomas Allegri broke the urinal in the south fourth floor boys bathroom during a Club Baño, ten days before KCTV5 interviewed him.
Baño occurs during passing periods on game days, cramming as many boys as possible into every last square inch of the school bathroom. Music blasting, the boys jump while pumping their fists aggressively into the air. All while shouting a variety of chants, but mainly including the most important of all, “Baño! Baño! Baño!”, to get pumped up for the upcoming games.
Allegri had decided to claim his place for Baño; that day it was the urinal. Using toilets, urinals and sinks wasn’t a new concept to allow more boys to cram into the small space. But the moment his entire weight shifted onto the urinal – it came down fast, shattering.
The broken pieces were by second hour, and shortly after, thirteen boys were called to the office. They were informed that the destruction would cost an estimation of $500. All boy winter athletes would be suspended, unless the perpetrator came forward.
It didn’t take long for Allegri to take the blame. His punishment would be a one day suspension, and he had to pay for the damages and labor to install a new urinal.
But that wasn’t the extent of the repercussions from the incident. Baño was declared by Principal John McKinney as being too destructive and disruptive, and the five-year-tradition came to an end.
To help pay off the damages for the urinal, Allegri created a GoFundMe page after a teacher suggested the idea. As what happened to Allegri spread through Facebook, the amount of money quickly began to rise.
“I heard from random Facebook posts [about Baño being over], and I honestly was pretty bummed about it,” alumni Will Cray said. “It seems to me like a fairly harmless, and original event that was certainly one of the salient memories when I reflect on high school.”
Hours went by and the page filled with donations ranging anywhere between $5 to $40, some people even left comments including messages from alumni, demanding the boys “don’t let the bano die.”
But according to McKinney, who made the formal decision to end the club, it is a permanent change. He felt that the club’s disruptiveness had grown – boys were beginning to leave class five, up to even 15 minutes early, even pulling each other out of class ‘get a good spot for the Baño. Not to mention, the blasting music and commotion causing distractions for classes near the bathroom. Then, after the destruction of property occurred, the cons greatly outweighed the pros.
And while breaking the urinal was an accident, by allowing Baño to continue, administrators were creating an environment where those type of accidents were more likely to occur says McKinney
“I would be the last person who would try to do away with a tradition that benefits students and benefits the school,” McKinney said. “But when school property gets destroyed because of a tradition we need to look more closely.”
The tradition began in the fall of 2011 by then seniors, Zach Colby and Mark Mergner. The idea struck Mergner after both boys walked by a classroom having a class party. They began spreading the word through Facebook, Twitter and word-of-mouth. The club immediately gained popularity; ten members became 20, and 20 quickly became 40.
“It was the golden age of Baño,” Colby said. “We had speakers, strobe lights, 50 plus Bañogoers and the people loved it.”
Allegri says, although it may sounds odd, Baño was much more than just a group of boys fist bumping to the song “Sandstorm.”
“It’s the spirit of Baño that makes it,” Allegri said. “It sounds like a really stupid idea until you become apart of it and it’s just a fun way to become a part of the school.”
Senior Hayes Hendricks agrees, and feels like that aspect is what really made it special and a long-lasting tradition.
“I know that sounds cliche, but there are some random people in there that you have never seen before in high school just having a lot of fun,” Hendricks said. “It really is a camaraderie thing, especially on game day.”
And it was that same feeling of camaraderie that prompted past and current Bañogoers to donate to help Allegri raise the $500 for the damages done to the urinal.
As one of the boys that was called into the office after the urinal shattered, Hendricks understands the reasoning behind the discontinuation, but still thinks that the tradition shouldn’t end. He feels that suspension for participating is unfair, especially for future grades, who will never get to take part in the tradition and experience the energy and spirit that made Baño what it was.
Freshmen Abe Laughlin only got to experience one Baño – the last one. He wishes he had gotten to take part in more, but is not deterred by the banning. He says he and his friends have already discussed ways to try and bring back Baño in the future when they are upperclassmen.
And according to Allegri, beginning new traditions has also been discussed. But he also knows living up to Club Baño will be difficult. And with the urinal only costing $390, the boys have discussed using the leftover $110 to create a plaque to commemorate the legacy of Baño. They want it to hang over the new urinal that replaced the shattered one.
But even though Baño’s during school passing period are over, Colby remains faithful in the strong tradition he helped found.
“I don’t think the tradition is coming to an end,” Colby said. “Sure maybe it won’t be ‘allowed’ but Baño will live on forever in the hearts and minds of the thousands of kids who have participated.”