Vaping problems addressed at middle school


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Vaping problems addressed at middle school




Kelly A. Burlison Middle School Principal Ken Lunsford shows school board members some of the vaping devices confiscated in his building. 


Victoria Kemper



The Fredericktown School Board learned about the increase in vaping among district students at its monthly meeting in February. 

Kelly A. Burlison Middle School Principal Ken Lunsford showed several examples of vaping devices which had been confiscated from students and discussed the problems he faces on a daily basis.

“There is a major problem, I’ll tell you that, and it is growing considerably in the younger ages, fast,” Lunsford said. “I think it is going to be at the intermediate school before we know it, if it isn’t already there.”

Lunsford showed a variety of different types of vapes to the board. He said one of the biggest problems is so many parents and students think vapes are OK.

“Identifying the problem, number one there is a higher number of usage for it,” Lunsford said. “We’ve got a problem with educating parents and students because they thought it was a healthy alternative to tobacco.

“St. Francois County has done a study, all five schools Bismark, North County, Farmington, Park Hills, West County, they sent out surveys to the students and verified there is a higher usage among students at a younger age. They also did a survey with the parents and the parents feel there were no or slight risk in using a vape. That is how far behind we were from when they first came out.”

Lunsford said nicotine causes problems with health and brain development in younger age children and also leads to other issues such as dabs, cannabis concentrates.

“This opens up a whole new ballgame when it comes to vapes because these could be passed around to other students and say ‘hey, here is a vape’ and they are inhaling instead of nicotine, they are inhaling marijuana oil,” Lunsford said. “They don’t always tell their peers it is actually marijuana oil.”

Lunsford said they are trying to educate their students and the parents about vapes.

“The biggest thing about anything is education,” Lunsford said. “We all know that. It doesn’t matter what it is, having an education is the number one defense against anything.”

Lunsford said Dana Barton found a free program out of Washington D.C. called “Vaping: Know the truth.” The program is an intervention complete with four, 5-to-10-minute, lessons, know, uncover, overcome and change. 

“We have four modules, four interventions the kids do,” Lunsford said. “You have to have an 80% on the post-test to go on to the next module.”

Lunsford said this program is set up for grades 8-12 and its data says 1 in 20 middle school students have reported using a vape. He said currently the district’s number is higher than that and it is growing.

The program is a new national youth vaping prevention curriculum created by Truth Initiative and Kaiser Permanente, in collaboration with the American Heart Association.

Lunsford said every student in his building caught with a vape will be required to go through the “Vaping: Know the truth” lessons.

Currently Fredericktown gives five days of ISS for the first vaping offense, five days OSS for the second offense and 10 days OSS for the third offense.

Lunsford said he is now glad the board put the new vaping policy in place. He said it is a major problem and the consequences need to be as strict as they are.

“Sometimes we feel like we are fighting a losing battle,” Lunsford said. “It is every day, folks. Every day we are searching someone for vapes.”

Victoria Kemper is a reporter for the Daily Journal. She can be reached at 573-783-3366 or at vkemper@democratnewsonline.com


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