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By Madison O’Leary
It is common knowledge that many teenagers experiment with alcohol and various drugs at some point in their high school careers. Recently, however, teens have started experimenting with a new drug phenomenon: JUULs and vaping. JUUL devices heat up a cartridge containing oils to create vapor, which quickly dissolves into the air. The device is small enough to fit in a closed fist and has a sleek, tech-inspired design that resembles a USB flash drive according to Truth Initiative.
Right now, there is not a significant amount of research on the product, so teens have no way of measuring how truly dangerous this drug is or could be since the product delivers an extremely potent and concentrated hit of nicotine or marijuana in the cartridge. Knowing this information provokes the question: Is teen vaping an epidemic and is it a problem in Council Rock’s community?
According to a May 2019 survey, 11% of the Council Rock North students surveyed are experimenting with vaping. However, 97% of the students surveyed believe that vaping is a problem in this school’s community. Currently, few students use these products, but vape/JUUL usage is on the rise.
The most recent nation-wide survey shows that the number of teens vaping has jumped ten percent within the last year. Vaping is reported to be at an “all time high,” although that observation is understandable since the technology is new.
Council Rock North’s Mr. Horn, health and physical education teacher, also participated in an interview to give a teacher’s perspective on the issue.
Q: As someone who works with children, what concerns you the most about vaping/drug use?
A: I would say that it’s the in-vogue thing now, and we don’t really know enough about it to know the dangers. I’m concerned because I know a lot of people are doing it, and it’s the cool thing to do right now. [The students] don’t really know what could happen to them. Back in the day, people smoked cigarettes all the time, then years later, [researchers] found out they’re really bad for you. Right now, I worry that we don’t have the research necessary to know the long-term risks of vaping.
Q: How common do you believe vaping is in our school’s community?
A: I haven’t seen anyone [vaping] but hearing the way that some students talk leads me to believe that it is somewhat prevalent here.
Q: Do you believe that teen vaping is an epidemic?
A: Right now, I would say no, but I believe that it’s on its way. I think it’s trending right now, which is very scary.
Q: Do you believe teens are educated enough on the health risks of smoking/vaping?
A: Personally, I would say no. Where I taught before coming to Council Rock, there was a unit on tobacco and marijuana, and they made the kids take a vape-education course, but the kids didn’t take it seriously. Also, people at my age don’t engage in [vaping], so not many people know what it really is. Even teachers don’t have a good grasp on what [vaping] is, so I definitely don’t think the students do either.
Q: What advice would you give to students who are experimenting with vaping?
A: I would never tell anyone what to do, but my best advice for anything in life is you should always weigh the pros and the cons and know the risks.
Despite not knowing the risks of vaping, teens continue to engage in these activities. Vaping is on the rise, and more teens use JUULs and other products annually. Although vaping is not an epidemic yet, it may be on its way, and Council Rock is not immune.
By Anushka Rajmohan
Student government is a mystery to many in the student body, since many of their responsibilities are fulfilled behind the scenes. Due to this, many students do not know the extent of the student government’s various jobs and the great deal of commitment and school spirit required to be part of student government. Many are also not aware of the procedure for joining student government, which ensures that the students campaigning to be officers are not only qualified, but are also fit to represent their grade.
“Student government” generally refers to the class officers, which include the president, vice president, treasurer, secretary, PR officer, and the SEB members. Each of these different officer positions has distinct responsibilities, but they all require massive amounts of work and energy.
The class of 2021 officers, for example, committed to a weekly meeting after school and homeroom meeting on Fridays for the past year. On top of this, the officers had responsibilities of their own that they had to fulfill outside of these meetings.
The president and vice president serve as the main line of communication with the principals and communicate with service providers for events, such as the DJ for the “Wemi.”
It’s common knowledge that the treasurer handles the money, but the treasurer also deposits the money from the class dues the past year.
The PR officer manages the sophomore class’s social media pages while the secretary handles the paperwork required by the activities office.
It’s also important to keep in mind that all of these officers have other commitments outside of student government, such as sports, academics, and leadership roles in other clubs. This requires them to be highly committed to their positions and to prioritize their time.
As many of us already know, student government is responsible for organizing school activities and events, such as Blue and White Night, the Fall Formal, “Wemi,” and the Junior and Senior Proms. What many students do not know is the amount of work that goes into arranging these different events.
For example, the junior class undertakes the Fall formal, and their duty is to organize every aspect of the dance--a tremendous responsibility to say the least. Mr. Diehl, the junior class adviser, summarizes this enormous task perfectly:
“[The junior class] coordinate[s] the efforts of all [Student Government] on set up night, but that one eight-hour period of activity is the culmination of many weeks of planning by twenty to thirty people.”
Many do not realize this hard work that all of student government contributes to in order for the entire student body to enjoy three to four hours of dancing and eating.
Not only do the officers have this enormous--and honorable--task, but they also have to fund these activities and events themselves. In order to raise funds, the officers must participate in numerous activities throughout the school year, as Ms. D-V, one of the two class advisers for the sophomore officers, explains:
“They are responsible for raising money for the class--by organizing and running dances, by participating in fall festival activities, by running the snack shack at football games, by manning the school store, by running senior breakfast every morning, and by sundry other activities they design, organize, and run.”
The multitude of activities that they organize and run themselves requires a great deal of time and energy on behalf of the officers. Moreover, the money raised by these activities all goes towards activities such as Senior Prom, graduation, and the highly anticipated Disney trip.
In addition to this, the officers of student government also listen to the input of the student body to initiate all kinds of changes in the school. However, these kinds of changes need to be approved by the school administration and school board, which is why many popular requests for reforms may not occur.
However, the changes that do end up happening are usually widely requested by students, but sometimes go unnoticed when the school actually institutes them. This year, for instance, the officers can be credited for getting signs to better control traffic in the parking lots, hand sanitizers in the cafeteria, and better cleaning in the bathrooms. In addition, student officers, more specifically the class of 2021 officers, were responsible for the reinvigoration of the Columbine Memorial Garden.
Aside from the numerous commitments the officers have to make, there are also other difficulties that come with the role of an officer. One of the more frequently mentioned challenges is the criticism that they receive from their fellow students.
Sanjana Harihar, the treasurer of the class of 2021 for the 2018-2019 school year, admits, “There is usually some criticism about the events. I think it is hard to satisfy everyone.”
These criticisms range from complaints about the food and music at dances to a lack of changes in the school. Since many don’t notice the changes that do occur, they believe that the officers don’t accomplish much.
Another common challenge that the officers face is while organizing school dances.
Richard Fang, who served as the vice president for the sophomore class for the 2018-2019 school year, comments on this: “Sometimes it is difficult organizing the events to make them fun while also affordable. We have to contact DJs to get good pricing, get good decorations, food, etc.”
This pressure is especially heightened when the student body often complains that the food and music weren’t good without realizing the reasons behind them.
Most students are not aware of what it really means to be part of student government. The tremendous work that they commit to, the changes that they help initiate, and the pressures that they face are all often unrecognized by the student body. Although these officers don’t receive enough credit for all the work that they do for their fellow students, they still continue to do all that they can to improve the school for everyone--an admirable endeavor.