Page last updated at 12:13 GMT, Tuesday, 21 October 2008 13:13 UK

Mass suspension of 'wild' pupils

A screen grab of Xavier College, Melbourne, Australia
The school charges A$16,000 a year in fees for final-year students

The entire graduating class at an exclusive Australian boys school has been suspended over "unacceptable" end-of-term antics.

Up to 100 of 250 Year 12 students at Xavier College, Melbourne, allegedly took part in the "muck-up day" trouble.

They ran through the school wearing only their school ties as G-strings, and set off fireworks at a nearby railway station, media reports say.

Classes have been cancelled until Wednesday, the scheduled final day.

Vehicles 'damaged'

The trouble began at lunchtime on Monday - "muck-up day", an unofficial tradition of graduating students taking part in end-of-term pranks and other activities.

They were blind drunk and some of them could barely stand. My kids have been through muck-up day, but I've never seen anything like that
Local resident

Police said they received numerous complaints relating to up to 100 students running rampage in the neighbourhood.

They were said to have harassed drivers and disrupted traffic, and there are also allegations that vehicles were damaged.

The students - aged 17 and 18 - are also accused of running semi-naked through the school grounds and setting off fireworks at the nearby Balaclava railway station.

One student was admitted to hospital with multiple fractures in his leg after a playground game reportedly got out of hand.

One neighbourhood resident wrote to The Age newspaper alleging the students were drunk and badly behaved.

"Their behaviour was disgraceful," the man said.

"They were blind drunk and some of them could barely stand. My kids have been through muck-up day, but I've never seen anything like that."

'Contravened boundaries'

In response the school has cancelled all classes until Wednesday, which would have been the final day of teaching.

Exams are due to begin at the end of the month for the Year 12 students, said to pay A$16,000 (US$11,000; 6,500) a year in fees to attend the Roman Catholic school.

In a statement, the school said the boys had "contravened the boundaries of sensible behaviour" while playing a game, and that the "unacceptable" conduct had forced it to cancel remaining classes.

It did not refer to the trouble off-campus, but police have threatened criminal charges against the pupils involved.

BBC News website readers have been sending in their comments:

What ever happened to a good wallop across the head! That's what these boys are lacking! When I went to Catholic School (graduate of 1995) we were taught respect, and were disciplined accordingly if having stepped out of line. The problem is these little rich kids have never learnt respect for others, never learnt how to take responsibility for their actions and certainly have no idea on social etiquette. Bring back the cane! :-)
Cleve Rynehart, Melbourne, Australia

I attended and enjoyed what seems to be a similar academic boys school in Canada. We also had an unofficial "muck-up day" called "grub day" and the tradition ended in much the same way: behaviour and stunts taken too far so it was cancelled.

The consensus at the time was that an unsustainable, escalating pattern of one-upmanship, whereby each graduating class felt a need to make things more extreme and wilder than the previous year, was the problem. Clever became vulgar, and fun became outrageous.
Jim Fuite, Edmonton, Canada

Glad to see not much has changed since my departure from Xavier in 1968. Now, if only the Jesuits would bring back the 15-inch strap (with the two inlaid Aussie pennies at one end), all would be right with life. Well done boys . . . you've made some of us old timers proud.
Timothy Lynch, Los Angeles, CA USA

As a Xavier alumni, it is disappointing to hear that the actions of a minority of students taking things too far have tarnished the reputation of a great educational institution. If indeed these allegations are true then they should be disciplined. However, how did the residents know they were all Xavier students? At my muck-up day, everyone (including students from other private schools in Kew, of which there are many) took off their ties and blazers, so it would have been very difficult for onlookers to distinguish which school the students belonged to. I think it might be another case of the media reporting everything it hears without actually checking the facts.
Peter C, London

It's almost like a tradition in all boarding school facilities for final year and graduating students to do something really wild and crazy before leaving school. We did it during my time by boycotting almost all regular school activities and had to sign an undertaking to be of good behaviour in the process. It's part of growing up...
Israel Ambe Ayongwa, Jonkoping, Sweden

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