Vape rates triple from this time last school year



Several RHS students attended a vaping awareness presentation in the Patti Baker Theater. Presentations such as these are being employed throughout RJUHSD in order to combat rising vaping rates among students in the district.


As of this school year, RHS’ rates for students caught vaping on campus are up nearly three times, in keeping with a national increase in vaping among teenagers in particular.

According to RHS principal David Byrd, in order to address this issue RHS is undertaking an “educational campaign” utilizing multiple intervention services for students caught vaping, as well as preventative measures such as district e-cigarette information nights and presentations for students in health classes.

Site wellness centers worked to organize an e-cigarette informational presentation put on by program coordinator for the Placer County Prevention Program Alexandra Wrid, after seeing similar presentations done in the Rocklin Unified School District. The presentation at RHS brought in nearly 80 people, both parents and students. Wellness and prevention coordinator Cristina Dobon-Claveau hopes approaching the issue from multiple angles will decrease the amount of students who turn to vaping.

“The e-cigarette and vaping phenomenon has hit us by storm where the youth were knowing more about this product than the adults were,” Dobon-Claveua said. “We want to come at it from a prevention lens, but also be a resource for students who maybe haven’t gotten caught but want to find better coping strategies to deal with whatever symptom they have that they are using the e-cigarettes to address.”

This is part of RJUHSD’s shift towards a restorative model of addressing student misbehavior, which focuses on reforming behavior through positive intervention rather than with punitive punishments like suspensions, which Byrd believes will more effectively help students.

“I know that’s frustrating for some people because they want everyone who does something wrong to be completely removed from the system,” Byrd said. “But I would much rather reach out to the kid… On the reality it is like a lot of things that may be okay for people to do in the privacy of their own home. They’re not okay to do here.”

According to assistant principal Matt Pipitone, the administrative approach to instances of students vaping on campus varies depending on the number of past offenses and the type of drugs used. A student vaping “higher schedule” drugs such as marijuana rather than tobacco might be put through the school’s Student Assistance Programs instead of or in conjunction with suspensions. However, all instances will be approached with an education-centered mindset.

For a first offense, administrators will notify parents and refer students to a diversion class held each month by student resource officer Marc Kelley. The class teaches students about the juvenile law system as part of an attempt to address vaping and other illegal activities students take part in. Additional counseling may be offered depending on student and parent response.

For a second offense, students will be referred to the newly implemented Wellness Center for a more intensive intervention program. The Wellness Center also uses a curriculum called Teen Intervene that, according to wellness and prevention coordinator Christina Dobon-Claveau, aims for “harm reduction” by transitioning students to use diminishing amounts of drugs until an eventual end.

The Wellness Center staff is currently working to have Wride return to RHS to speak to students in health classes and potentially put on more presentations in future years. Wride hopes not only helping parents recognize if their child is vaping, but to help students and parents alike in understanding the impact the activity can have on people’s physical health.

“Your brain is still developing and so you don’t want that addiction to happen,” Wride said. “Because once you start younger, you’re addicted for life.”

In the future, the district is considering working with Roseville Police Department to secure a grant for purchasing vape detectors for bathrooms on campus. RJUHSD began looking into this option following Rocklin Unified School District’s purchase of vape detectors for their schools.

Pipitone urges students to understand that many of the potentially negative of vaping are still unknown, and think twice before making the decision to turn towards e-cigarettes.

“The conversation I typically have with students is would you drink that juice straight. ‘No that’s disgusting.’ But turning it into a vapor and sucking it into your lungs is better?” Pipitone said.