Last month, senior Michael Bodomov, 17, was given the assignment of creating a character and becoming that person for one day at Mount Lebanon High School, near Pittsburgh.
The teenager hopes to attend the University of Pittsburgh next year and is considering whether he should study theater and drama. Whatever he decides, many at his school believed him when he acted out his role.
Bodomov's character was John, a homeless man who had an argument with his family after running over his younger sister. John had also been mentored by a guru and given up all his material possessions as a result.
"I wore like a couple layers of coats and some sweatpants," Bodomov explained. He also wore a pair of fingerless gloves, plastic bags for socks and mismatched shoes. In addition, Bodomov smeared ink all over his face, so he would look dirty.
The possible future theater major usually walks to school. The day of the incident his mother, Marina, drove him and dropped him off early, because she thought he looked so much like a homeless person. The main entrance was not yet open.
Bodomov went to a different entrance and pulled on the door. That attracted the attention of hall monitor or teacher, who asked what the stranger wanted.
Bodomov said he had to think fast and "kind of mumbled." He said he added he needed to talk to some people. He explained that he wonders now if his actions might have made people think he was not mentally stable.
The teenager said he could not decide at the time whether to continue playing his role or tell officials who he was. Bodomov decided to drop hints about his identity. He reasoned he could then say he stayed in character the whole time.
The teenager said he thinks he at one time said "I might be a student here." He said a school official replied that he couldn't be because he had not showered in 10 days and looked like he was 30.
Bodomov attempted to show a garbage bag he held, because it also contained his school backpack. But his attention to character detail thwarted that, too. All the officials saw was the empty plastic bottles inside.
The high school student says he was attempting to let officials know the whole time he was a student at the school.
"It was pretty funny to me,” he commented.
At that time, the police arrived.
The student explained the situation but also attempted to stay in character for a little longer. When the police left, an administrator suspended him for insubordination. He was also suspended for breaking a school rule that students have to identify themselves when asked to by an administrator.
Officials at the school said a policy does not allow them to comment on an individual incident of discipline.
According to WTOP
, the teenager says he does realize the school was put in an unusual situation by his actions, even though he thinks school officials overreacted. He says he believes the two-day suspension he received is excessive.
According to the Telegraph
, Bodomov's mother is not upset by the suspension. She said because of recent school shootings, which have been in the news, school officials had a right to be concerned when a stranger showed up with a garbage bag.