By Emily Drooby
Within the walls of Xaverian High School, you’ll see kids shuffling to class, chatting in the hall and learning. But the one thing you won’t see is any vaping.
Students caught vaping or with paraphernalia face suspension, parent meetings, removal from extracurriculars and even expulsion from the Bay Ridge, Brooklyn school.
E-cigarettes have become a hot button topic in schools across the country as a growing number of teens seem permanently attached to the vaping devices. One in four teens have used them, according to the FDA.
“We didn’t take it very seriously at first, I don’t think anyone did. And the situation became much more dire, in that it became much more accepted,” explained principal Deacon Kevin McCormack. A year ago, the school’s approach to vaping wasn’t the case.
Seven people have already died from suspected vape-related illnesses, while hundreds others are currently suffering from lung illness associated with vaping. Still, these statistics have only stopped some kids from vaping.
Now, students at Xaverian are most worried for their friends.
“A large part of the problem is people see their friends doing it and then peer pressure kicks in. And they’re like, “If I see my friend doing it, she’s my best friend, if it’s not hurting her it’s not going to hurt me,’” explained Michael Lustri, a junior at the school.
With the new approach towards e-cigarettes in school, Deacon McCormack said that the incidents have “decreased immensely.”
“I mean you just don’t see it as much,” said Anthony Cerulli, a senior at Xaverian.
“I’ve seen people get in trouble. I’ve seen people get expelled from the school, and I’ve noticed a lot of chatter when it’s one of their friends. They’re saying ‘Oh, they got caught, we should be more careful.’ They’re cracking down, and I think it’s a good mindset to have,” explained senior Arianna Conti.
“So when you are taken off of those extracurriculars, it’s not like, ‘Oh I’m just off football.’ It’s like your off football, you’re off speech and debate, you’re off music,’” Michael said of the repercussions students face.
The fight against e-cigarettes is not specific to Xaverian. Catholic schools across the Brooklyn Diocese are joining in. Many are implementing diocesan programs that teach kids the horrors of e-cigarettes, hoping to curb the crisis.