CHESTERFIELD, Mo. — At Parkway West High School, it is Savannah Araya’s mission to help keep her fellow students safe.
“One thing my mom has always taught me is that you have to connect, rather than correct,” said Araya, a high school senior. “Being a high school student, you can't just lecture them that you're doing these bad things.”
Araya is part of a group called Teens Voice for Change, tackling a variety of health topics, including vaping.
“It's not a healthy thing for kids to do,” Araya said.
Araya and the group will be hanging anti-vaping posters all over campus. She also visits middle schools to talk with students about the dangers of vaping, and she meets with administrators to share her insight.
“One thing we talked about is the black spots of high schools,” Araya said. “Every high school has those spots where kids know where to Juul. In the staircase is a huge thing.”
At Parkway West, students who are caught vaping face detention and meet with an assistant principal. The school also calls parents.
If they get caught a second time, they go through an intensive online course.
“You could hear a gasp from the student body when they found out they would have to do a five-hour training if they were caught for a second offense. I think that was a pretty clear indicator that they understood that we meant business and we were taking their health very seriously,” said Assistant Principal Beth Aromando.
The online course is called Vape Educate. It is designed so that students cannot skip through it.
“I'm happy to report we haven't had to use the vape educate this school year,” Aromando said.
Aromando said teachers and staff are also more aware of what vape products look like, and that may be deterring students’ use.
“The main thing we are striving for is to have a healthier school,” Araya said.