Administrators combat vaping issue at Bennington High School
At Bennington High School, administrators don't just confiscate vaping devices, they call police.
Vape pens are treated as drug paraphernalia unless there is a specific way to tell if they only contain nicotine. If staff at the school can verify that, it's treated as a tobacco product.
Bennington Junior High/High School Principal Curtis Nightingale says since so many high school students are under the legal age to use tobacco, they face both school and legal consequences.
"Anytime you inhale something that doesn't belong in your system, there are going to be problems," Nightingale says.
The devices students use for vaping can be discreet and used just about anywhere.
"They aren't much larger than a USB jump drive that you'd use on your laptop," Nightingale says. "You can hide it pretty much anywhere. They could literally do it in class."
After Kansas' first vaping-related death, some Bennington High School students worry for their classmates.
Bennington has been fighting the vaping issue for years, finding ways to prevent it both on and off school grounds. It's a subject in health classes where students learn about the dangers of vaping and do research papers on the topic. Bennington also added weekly sessions for students to talk with advisors.
"Those conversations are happening in advisory as well," Nightingale says. "Conversations with staff talking about, 'hey, do you know what you're putting into your system or what it's doing to you?'"
Nightingale says vaping is a topic that needs to be talked about openly in order to make progress. And even though the school provides as much information as they can, it comes down to students to decide whether or not they want to risk the consequences of vaping.