PROSSER, Wash. — Prosser High School students may have noticed something different about their front door Monday when they came back from Christmas break. The trees were gone.

But let’s quash a rumor here.

Many students have been speculating that the trees were removed to make it harder for bad guys to kill people as a reaction to last month’s shootings at a Connecticut elementary school that left 20 kids dead.

True, police sometimes recommend homeowners and business owners remove vegetation near doorways to increase visibility, making it more difficult to commit crimes, and school officials in Prosser have been discussing how to beef up security in light of the shootings.

But Ray Tolcacher, Prosser School District superintendent, said that’s not why school officials decided to get rid of the gum trees that had shaded the entryway of the main hallway, the front office and the boys locker room for decades.

The trees dropped hard, golf ball-sized seed pods and had been pushing up cracks in the sidewalk, causing trip hazards. In fact, a few people have slipped on the pods, Tolcacher said.

It had nothing to do with shootings, he said.