The Student News Site of Perry Meridian High School


The Student News Site of Perry Meridian High School


The Student News Site of Perry Meridian High School


PMHS students take on vaping awareness

Natalie Newlin
Nicole Swisher assists her student in observing the lung.

Early in the semester, anatomy teacher Kim Stafford was approached by fifth grade Abraham Lincoln Elementary teacher Sarah Phillips expressed her concern over a growing issue among Perry’s youngest students: vaping. Her request? For PMHS anatomy students to visit the elementary schools to spread awareness over the health risks of vaping, while also steering them away from giving into peer pressure as they get older.

Kate McKee displays the structure of the lung. (Natalie Newlin)

While anatomy students studied the respiratory system and grasped a better understanding of the structure of the lungs, they were also asked to conduct research in groups on how chemicals commonly found in vapes can affect lung tissue over certain periods of time, of which students designed lesson plans presenting their findings. Lesson plans were then submitted to a group of judges who voted on the top nine presentations they found would be most engaging and beneficial for elementary students.
When junior Kate Mckee’s group arrived at Douglas Macarthur to present, the welcomed her with a song and enthusiastically participated in the lesson. “The whole experience was just so positive and successful,” McKee said. “It was very impressive to see how engaged they were. [My group was] a bit hesitant to teach little kids, I’ll be honest, but they were amazing. They were interested, prepared, and asked a lot of questions.”

Students in the anatomy class were surprised by the rapid spread of vaping in Perry’s youngest students. Senior Shy’Anne Faulkner noted how she was surprised to hear that students are starting to vape at such a young age, and she is glad she got to try and prevent them from entering that unhealthy lifestyle. “I feel that it is very sad that it has come to the point where we have to go to elementary schools, and it is important for us to talk to them when considering the prevalence of the issue. The amount of people that vape today is significantly higher than I feel it has ever been. It’s become just so normalized, and I was very grateful to be able to talk to them before this just ‘bad habit’ escalates into addiction,” Faulkner said.

As anatomy students continued to work on their experiments, word of their lesson plans spread through the district. Superintendent Patrick Spray invited three anatomy students to talk on his new podcast, “Students & The Super.” Junior Audrey Eversole, Faulkner, McKee and Stafford took the opportunity to discuss their findings and experiences teaching the elementary students.
Spray watched some of the presentations and acknowledged the importance of Perry’s older students influencing the younger. “The whole phenomenon is only probably about ten years old, and has become the most prevalent in the last six or seven,” Spray said. “There’s just so much misinformation and lack of long term research on the impact of vaping, so much so that I think people don’t think it is as bad as smoking, or that it’s a healthy alternative. There’s also the fact that vapes have been advertised to young folk. I know that one of the groups over here today at Douglas MacArthur asked the class how many of them have been offered a vape to try, and it was unfortunate just how many hands went up.”

Shy’Anne Faulkner instructs young students on the dangers of vaping.
(Natalie Newlin)

While anatomy students have discouraged vaping to elementary students, vaping within PMHS walls has remained a frequent issue. “I just don’t think students who vape understand what they’re doing to their lungs,” Stafford said. “I don’t think they understand the damage. … I just want people to be aware of what they are choosing to do. Like I told all my classes, I hope you can make oxygen tanks look cute.”

Faulkner, McKee and Eversole have grown frustrated with the amount of students who vape between passing periods. “I should be able to use the restroom between passing periods if I need to, but I can’t,” Eversole said. “Believe it or not, there are people who want to be here.”
Faulkner said when students start vaping, their behavior can change. “It’s just so disheartening to see so many people use vaping as something to bond over,” Faulkner said. “I feel like vaping, because it’s so addicting, diminishes so much personality within people. They’re like a whole new person.”

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