Breaking News... and Bathrooms--Vandalism and Vaping Surge on Campus
By Emily Southern--Eagle Staff Writer
There’s an old saying that goes “one bad apple can ruin the bunch,” and although it’s been said for many years, it still applies today, as there’s been a recent rise in vandalism, referrals, and tardies here on campus. FCHS has a vast population of students, but a rising minority is responsible for these latest incidents.
Although these issues have always been a problem, there’s no way for administration to compare referrals from previous years to this year due to COVID, which may also be a reason why bathroom vandalism and similar acts have risen in popularity.
“As far as other referrals being on the rise, it’s tough to compare this year’s referrals to last year’s, or even the year before. We’re in a totally different situation,” stated Law Building Administrator Curtis Bumgardner. “Last year we were hybrid for most of the year, closed at certain points, and kind of fully open that last nine weeks so we can’t really compare this year to last year.”
To keep these infractions at bay, administration has ramped up security in and around the bathrooms.
“We’re trying to limit the number of kids who can go in the bathroom as well as those who can leave class during a particular time. We have security making sweeps through the bathrooms, we have our custodians checking in on them, and administrators check in and clean out the bathrooms [of loiterers] too,” Bumgardner listed.
While these efforts have stopped some acts of vandalism, students simply trying to use the restroom in between classes are also stepping in to help.
“I have [witnessed vandalism and/or vaping]. I have stopped some of this activity from happening,” stated senior James Pagans.
As Pagans mentioned, vaping is also surging on campus. Although the legal vaping age has increased to 21, there are now four vape shops within walking distance of FCHS. Furthermore, Tik-Tok challenges accompanied by social pressures may be contributing to the problem.
Many of the students receiving vaping referrals are repeat offenders, which is why Christina Gibson, the school psychologist, brought the New Day program to FCHS to inspire change.
The New Day program offers intervention and counseling services to students who are at-risk for substance abuse and treatment referrals for those with substance abuse issues. Students are eligible for New Day "if they have had two or more referrals from vaping or any type of substance," said Gibson. “In terms of discipline referrals, they are not required to go through the New Day program it is just encouraged, but for student-athletes they are required to go through it before they return to their sport and this is for any type of substance,” stated Gibson.
Gibson also shared that this program has definitely made a difference in the community; however, both she and Bumgardner feel that if parents and friends become more involved with their children/friends, substance abuse wouldn’t have to reach Gibson’s door.
“Be involved with your students and know what is going on in their life,” advised Bumgardner. “Teenagers are hardwired to make bad decisions. They don't have the experience or knowledge that adults do. The only thing you can do as a parent is be involved.”