Every group has its own way of celebrating holidays, and Front Range Community College is no different. As the weather gets warmer, and thoughts turn to spring and flowers and baseball, I think of one of our oddest holidays, April Fools’ Day.

Just monkeyin’ around on April Fools’ Day.

Specifically, I go back to a morning quite a few years ago. The Math Department has a large board near the Math Lab that displays pictures of its faculty. That morning, that April 1, the students who walked down that hall found that many of their math instructors’ pictures had been replaced by pictures of monkeys. Some did not notice, while others thought the Math Department had gotten groomed and had their pictures replaced. Once people figured out the timing of these changes, the search for culprits began.

The usual suspects.

Somehow, I came to be blamed for this April Fools’ Day prank – probably because I had a lot to do with it. I had an accomplice, and we made sure to hit only the pictures of people we thought would not be offended by being replaced by monkeys. After all, our purpose was to have fun in a friendly way, not to make anyone feel bad. And it worked better than I could have anticipated.

Turnabout is fair play.

Last year, as I walked into my humanities class, I noticed that my students were looking down at papers and snickering. One of them handed me the paper, and I saw that my simian friends had put together an “exam” that involved questions regarding my “lame” sense of humor, my wardrobe, and even my hair. On the top, there was a Photoshopped picture of me surrounded by flying monkeys.

Interestingly, as I interviewed suspects, I found not only a lot of grinning Math faculty, but also a trail that led back to my former accomplice. In the end, though, this experience brought us closer together. I was invited to a class potluck, and even to bowl with the Math Department. And I didn’t bowl so badly for a humanities guy. One thing I did learn, by the way, is that when Math instructors invite you to an event at which everyone has “Pi” on their T-shirts, it doesn’t mean to devour a pastry and smear the filling on your shirt.

A good-spirited April Fools’ prank helps morale.

In the end, though, a good joke, when it is done in the spirit of friendship, can make for a fun workplace and help build team spirit. Despite, the frivolity of our behavior, all of us ended up doing quite well. I and a couple of Math instructors ended up winning the Master Teacher award during the ensuing years. Also, the very year that their pictures were defaced, the Math Department was selected as the department of the year.

Where are they now?

As for the accomplice, the one who managed to pull a prank on both of us, I am hesitant to reveal any names, but let me just say this. If you think pranking is just mindless fun, look at the Front Range example. Today’s prankster can be tomorrow’s Master Teacher, lead a model department, or even become campus vice president.

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