There are many adjectives to describe last week's decision by a Northern Cambria High School senior to bring a 6-foot black snake to school in his backpack.
Those that immediately come to mind are "immature, thoughtless and shortsighted" in regard to the potential ramifications and possible punishments.
But that incident evokes a message that graduating students should keep in mind as they look forward to college in the fall, starting work or seeking employment, making preparations for military service and otherwise enjoying the summer. That is to avoid conduct and situations that could wreck their futures and even claim their lives.
The Northern Cambria student in question failed to consider the serious havoc and even the potential for injuries - or worse - for which he would have been responsible if the snake had escaped, as his intended prank began playing out.
School administrators weren't amused about the events that could have unfolded, including a medical emergency that might have been triggered when someone came face to face with the serpent. Thus, the student's last days at Northern Cambria became less about having achieved the important milestone of earning his high school diploma, and more about what the fallout of his action might be.
Beyond that, it can be said that the intended prank put him in the position of beginning his post-high school life on the wrong foot. By the end of high school, young people should have achieved a relatively mature level of insight and understanding about how their actions can and do impact others.
Most have that realization, but unfortunately some don't.
Regardless, the summer after graduation can be a dangerous time for young people as they seek to celebrate their new independence, and the last weeks of being in frequent contact with their close friends and many other former classmates.
News articles in years past recounted tragic and sometimes fatal incidents, as well as encounters with the law, connected with the desire to pack as much fun as possible into this first post-high school summer.
It's to be hoped that schools delivered - or will deliver - a message and reminder about caution before the departure of their seniors.
Careless, unlawful or irresponsible actions must not deprive this nation, its states and its communities - even the world - of the talents that have been evolving over the last 17 or 18 years.
In central Pennsylvania, students graduating this year, like those who preceded them, have the ability to attain great successes in business, education, military careers, shepherding others as a member of the clergy - whatever.
Hopefully, the student responsible for the Northern Cambria snake episode will end up being among the success stories, having learned an important lesson from last Thursday's intended prank.
After the incident, administrators said the student would be facing discipline under the district's code of conduct.
The message of a May 23 Mirror editorial holds true. It's a time to wish graduates good luck in their future endeavors.
However, advice also is apropos: Use good judgment and be careful.