MANTI – Good things are happening at Manti High School. The ever growing popular TikTok Challenge “Deviant Lick” has swept the nation in recent weeks. While administrators didn’t think it would affect their school, it did, and multiple times. After a statement about the challenge was read to all students, a couple of boys and a whole leadership class began a movement to counter the underlying culture that allows the Devious Lick Challenge to thrive.
Assistant Principal Josh Palmer said the challenge encourages students to do devious things to school property, most often resulting in severe vandalism. A couple of weeks ago, they started seeing vandalism in several of their bathrooms: soap dispensers routinely taken off the wall, toilet paper dispensers removed and/or destroyed, and sanitary napkin waste baskets missing.
“We decided we had to make a statement and ask our students for help,” said Palmer.
The administration drafted a statement that was read to all students and then teachers were asked to have a discussion with their classes. The statement noted that the administration was disappointed that Manti High School students would do this.
They said that they believed that overall there is a culture of inclusion and respect and that the actions happening with the challenge did not represent the overall vast majority of the students or larger community.
Palmer said that the morning after teachers discussed the Devious Lick Challenge, he went into one of the boy’s bathrooms to determine if there had been any vandalism since the day before. On the way there, he noticed signs that had been put up in the halls with the phrase, “Be Cool, Don’t Steal.” As he entered that particular bathroom, he was met with a card table and chairs, a salt lamp on the table, several board and card games, two-ply toilet paper in every stall, Clorox wipes, an air freshener, a speaker playing classical music, a small plant, and one of the boys who had organized it, Jonathan Wales.
“I was obviously caught off guard,” said Palmer.
As he sat at the card table and discussed this with Jonathan, he noticed there were signs posted in front of every urinal and within every stall that read, “Please don’t steal. This isn’t the school saying this; we just don’t want to lose our bathroom privileges.”
The school quickly decided they wanted the students who had done this to receive more attention than those who had made the unfortunate decision to vandalize their own building.
They allowed all of these things to remain in the bathroom until lunch that afternoon. In addition to Jonathan, another MHS student, Brexton Jensen, was also involved.
“It was fun to see so many people going in and out of the bathroom simply to see what they had heard their friends or teachers talking about. I witnessed teachers and students alike congratulating these boys on trying to change the culture and being awesome,” said Palmer.
At lunchtime the boys were asked to remove all of the items from the bathroom with the exception of the posters. Palmer said that while they love what the boys did, they couldn’t allow this to become a distraction from learning. The message had been sent and it was the talk of the school for the next several days.
One of the leadership classes taught by Mrs. Chelsee Mason discussed the Devious Lick Challenge, what Brexton and Jonathan had done, and how their specific class could further the change wrought within the school. They came up with something called the “Angelic Lick” challenge.
Mrs. Jana Worthington, student government advisor, invited Mrs. Mason’s students and Jonathan Wales to come visit with her class and discuss what they did and how it made the school a better place.
“As Jonathan explained his thoughts behind the decorating of the bathroom, he said it’s actually something that he had wanted to do for awhile and just hadn’t found the right time until now,” said Worthington.
He really didn’t want recognition for it. He said he just wanted to spread a good message instead of a destructive one.
The example of Jonathan and Brexton has really spread throughout the school and not only through word of mouth. The student government students are excited about this new “Angelic Lick Challenge” and are coming up with some fun ideas for making the school a better place.
“We really hope a new challenge of positivity and respect will abound here at MHS,” said Worthington.
The freshman leadership class decided they could make posters with positive messages to hang throughout the school. Some of the messages were, “Be Chill, Don’t Steal,” and “Do Good and Good Will Come to You.”
Mrs. Mason said Jonathan and Brexton set a great example of proactivity. She said that she is passionate about leadership principles and encouraged her class to keep the positive momentum going. Her class brainstormed ways to help the school and decided to “heart-attack” the school and clean up trash. As menial as picking up trash seems to be, the facilities representatives have expressed that it’s one of the best ways students can help beautify the school.
“It’s been so fun to see how excited my students are and the way they are choosing to work together,” said Mason.
Gunnison Valley and North Sanpete High Schools have also fallen victim to the ever growing negative challenge.
Principal Gene King at Gunnison Valley High would like to encourage parents to have discussions with their students about having pride in the school and not getting involved in these types of situations. He said that if students choose to participate, it could lead to any number of repercussions ranging from suspensions and fines to law enforcement interactions.
“Our custodians are fantastic and have a large workload that is added to whenever actions like these occur,” said Principal King. “Gunnison Valley High School students are awesome and continually amaze me. As their principal, I hope they will continue to show their school pride by keeping our school neat and clean.”
North Sanpete’s Principal Christine Straatman said in a weekly bulletin to parents that their school has seen an increase in school vandalism, especially in the restrooms associated with the recent challenge.
Due to the recent vandalism, the school has had to close several of the boys’ bathrooms. She also encourages parents to talk to their students about the seriousness of the situation. All incidents related to the challenge will be referred to the school’s resource officer and/or local law enforcement.
“I think it’s just immature for high school students to do things like that,” said North Sanpete SBO President Carson Hadley. “I know it’s some trend, but I don’t think they realize they are damaging government property. Someone has to pay for that and their actions ruin it for everyone else.”
Straatman also brought up in the newsletter that there is a new challenge for October encouraging students to “slap a teacher” or “smack a staff member.”
The school will be taking the participation in these challenges seriously. Any challenge that encourages vandalism, harassment or violent behavior will not be tolerated.