December Principal's Message
Winter is upon us and only a month of school remains in first semester. It is a hectic time of year with the holidays, winter school activities, and students preparing for end of quarter projects and semester exams. As busy as everyone may be, this time of year is a good opportunity to step back and enjoy friends, family, and our community.
In the weeks ahead, we have several home athletic events and preparations for winter concerts. Between school-sponsored events and outside groups, it seems like our building is full every night. A new addition this winter is the move of Madrigals to the high school building. This event has historically been hosted at various offsite locations in LeRoy, but will be held in the JHHS cafetorium this year on December 8th and 9th.
As I write this month’s newsletter, we are already experiencing our second winter weather event of the season so I want to bring our district Winter Weather Policy to your attention. This was shared at registration and earlier this month.
I also want to take a moment to address a topic that should be on all parents’ radar. After you read this next sentence, most of you may be tempted to stop reading and wait for next month’s newsletter. I urge all of you to take time to read along about what many experts across the country are calling a “vaping/e-cigarette and nicotine crisis” for this generation of teenagers. From my experiences, I can tell you all teenagers are at risk of being exposed to the temptation of using vaping products. In nearly 20 years of working in education, I have not seen anything as non-threatening in appearance and addictive as today’s vaping products; which appear to be marketed to teenagers.
Below is an educational link about teenagers and vaping. This short article is well worth the read. It includes national survey data that indicates 13.3% of 8th Graders, 23.9% of 10th Graders, and 27.8% of 12th Graders reported vaping last year. Based on Illinois Youth Survey data we collected last spring, our student reported use was comparable to this national data. The FDA reports vaping amongst high school students (up 78%) and middle school students (up 48%) has increased drastically in the last year. Early indications this year, including increases of students being caught at school and reports of students doing it, indicate that numbers are steady or up from last year.
What is the allure of vaping? Many believe it is just the new cool thing for teenagers to try, which is likely true. The biggest concern is that some of these products contain up to 70% more nicotine than cigarettes. On top of that, vaping products such as Juul, Blu, and Suorin are easily concealable in pockets (see attached photos), have enjoyable flavors such as mint and fruit, and have no clearly identifiable smell that sticks to clothing. Juul products even look strikingly similar to a computer flash drive and Blu products looks like a pen. All of this helps lead to teenagers not realizing the high risk of addiction to nicotine. The federal government has even begun investigating these companies that appear to be marketing to teenagers. The surgeon general has recently stated “I will not allow a generation of teenagers to become addicted to nicotine.”
I am sharing this information with you because the use of these products is a growing concern not only in LeRoy, but in neighboring districts and across the country. All schools and communities are dealing with this issue. We have had multiple students suspended for possession and use of these products, both of which violate the student handbook and athletic code. In addition to helping educate parents and students, we are locking down areas reported to be common vaping locations, asking for teachers to report suspicious student bathroom trips, monitoring bathrooms more closely, and asking for students to help in identifying student users including the locations and times of occurrence. While we do not have a perfect solution to the problem, our hope is with parental partnership we can help our students make good decisions related to vaping.
Key Upcoming Dates
No School – School Improvement Day
December 10 – 14
Junior High eMPower Testing
December 20 – 21
High School Semester Exams
December 22 – January 6