Fighting against time: WHS looks to prevent influence of future TikTok trends


Credit: Garrett Spooner

A sick at WHS is filled with a soap dispenser that was taken off the wall. Nation wide, schools have been dealing with the ‘Devious Licks’ challenge, and now more challenges have emerged. “We are not immune to larger trends that are happening across the state and across the country,” Mizoguchi said. “I can’t think of a time when there has been this sort of coordinated destruction of school property based on a social media trend.”

Sophia Oppenheim

Anyone active on the popular social media app Tiktok will know of the ‘devious lick challenge’ that popular users created. However, now a new list of challenges has emerged, encouraging students to complete a new illegal activity for every month of the school year.

The original trend presumably began on Sept. 6, when a TikTok user posted a video of them stealing a hand sanitizer dispenser from their school on TikTok. The video caught a large amount of traction, gaining millions of views in just a couple of days.

“I am usually late to the game, but around the time that things were getting more widely known [I learned] what [the devious lick challenges was],” principal Allyson Mizoguchi said. “[My initial reaction was] disgust, I was flabbergasted and confused. What is the thrill? [I had] this lack of understanding about the whole concept.”

The ‘devious lick challenge,’ encouraging students to steal and damage school property, became a local issue. It was brought to Vice Principal Laura Cole’s attention after doing a walkthrough and noticing that the gender neutral bathroom was missing a soap dispenser.

“[When] a student sent us a video of a [WHS] student doing a ‘devious lick,’ I googled it and found the list of challenges,” Cole said. “What is so surprising about the challenges, besides that they could all earn someone criminal charges, is that they all negatively impact the culture of a school and cultivate negative learning environments where students could feel unsafe.”

It is estimated that Wayland High School lost thousands of dollars due to the loss of stolen items. At both the middle school and high school, soap dispensers were ripped off walls, paper towel dispensers were damaged along with signage, doors and bathroom stalls.

“[The destruction] is significant in terms of the financial cost, as well as time that our custodial staff needs to take to reassemble missing pieces,” Mizoguchi said. “It is a deplorable concept, I can’t imagine that this could be our students, I really can’t.”

On Thursday, Oct. 14, another paper towel dispenser was found to be broken. The cost of repairs and reordering new supplies is still rising.

“We are still trying to keep up with what needs to be fixed while addressing and prioritizing essential damage,” Cole said. “We are heading into a pretty high figure [financially]. Including stolen property, [we could reach over] $5,000.”

The loss of the supplies has been affecting students and the community. Many students have been bothered by the loss of supplies and have not been able to wash their hands with soap. Additionally, the custodial staff has been forced to block off bathroom stalls.

“An annoying part of the challenge has been the lack of soap dispensers,” junior Jun Waye said. “Not washing your hands after using the bathroom is gross enough, let alone it being at school and during a pandemic.”

There are many mixed feelings for students at WHS. While some students are partaking in the challenges, others like Waye have only seen it in a negative view.

“I think that there might be a handful of kids who will continue to partake in the stupid challenges that are just coverups for assault and vandalism,” Waye said. “For the most part, everyone thinks these new challenges are insanely stupid and unacceptable.”

In Mizoguchi’s Friday Follow Up email sent on Oct. 1, she detailed the new list of challenges. The list includes a new challenge each month, some of which are “mess up school signs” (Feb.), “make a mess in the courtyard or cafeteria” (March) and “flip off the front office” (June).

“I have way too much respect and faith in our students to believe [they will continue the challenges],” Mizoguchi said. “[Wayland] is too conscientious and respectful of a community to fall into that trap.”

Although the trend is slowing at WHS, there has been word that students at Wayland Middle School are partaking in October’s challenge, “smack a staff member.” For the high school, there are still concerns for the future.

“Most students do not know the severity of consequences they will receive if they complete these challenges,” Cole said. “[My message to students is] don’t take this school and its resources for granted, you are fortunate to have the freedom and independence here at the high school. Have some integrity and do the right thing.”

Mizoguchi and other staff encourage any student that has heard or seen anything to come forward and report it.

“[If someone comes forward], we can intervene and help,” Mizoguchi said. “Let’s be proactive, preventative and the best community we know how to be.”