Smoke and Mirrors: Vaping in Schools


Lily C Escalante , Writer/Editor

Last year we interviewed Lara McDonald and Principal Dial on the impacts of student vaping in middle school. The article was never released publicly, but seeing as how vaping currently shapes our school’s culture, it still serves an important lesson. 

“Some kids are naturally drawn to rebellion,” Lara McDonald, a 7th grade English teacher, told us in 2021. “Which is normal. Some kids see it as an act of adulting, and many kids…well, they just want to fit in. So they do it to spend time with the crowd that they deem important.”

Right now, Washburn SRural Middle School (WRMS) is continuing to struggle with student-vaping. In fact, many middle school staff have dubbed this new trend, ‘The Vaping Epidemic.’ The ‘epidemic’ began only a year ago, when vapes began to circulate through small webs of students. Now, almost every student has been victim to the effects of this school-wide vaping. According to Principal Dial only a year ago, many students have resulted in avoiding the bathrooms entirely, just to stay away from students vaping.

But no matter how much you try to avoid the smoke and mirrors, you can still have your bag searched randomly by school police officers. Jocelyn Escalante, a now freshman, claims that school officers searched an entire classroom’s worth of bags one day. When they had searched her bag, they confiscated the Snickers bar she had bought at the cafeteria, but left behind a bag of ADHD medications that she carries on her- which the school was unaware of.

While vaping has many harmful effects, at some point we should question: does criminalizing young students have the same effects? Lara McDonald concludes, “Oftentimes, when students are making harmful decisions for themselves, there is a deeper underlying issue going on.” 

Now with vaping becoming a popular pastime, we’re left to wonder just how all of this will end. Largely ignored by teachers and students, it has become a normal part of high schooler’s lives, and there’s very little many are willing to do about it. If you or a loved on is struggling with nicotine addiction, researchers suggest being prepared for withdrawal symptoms and finding ways to alleviate them- like drinking coffee or soda instead of using nicotine; talking to a therapist or a trusted adult whose priorities are to help you not lecture you, and distance yourself from possible triggers like specific bathrooms, friends, or social media posts. 

Remember, you are not alone.