Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School
60° Rockville, MD
The student news site of Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

The Lion's Tale

The student news site of Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

The Lion's Tale

The student news site of Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

The Lion's Tale

Nathan celebrates after breaking the school record for the 3,200 meter race. Used with permission from Nathan Szubin.
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Vigilance on vaping

Photo+illustration+by+Abby+Chesman+
Photo illustration by Abby Chesman

As of December 2023, the CESJDS Upper School campus has installed five vape detectors in various bathrooms throughout the school. A plan to put in vape detectors has been in motion since the end of the 2022-2023 school year, and families were made aware of this initiative through an email that was sent out on Feb. 13. 

The JDS administration’s decision to install vape detectors throughout the Upper School campus was made in part after consulting with other private schools in the area. High School Principal and Upper School Campus Head Dr. Lisa Vardi, who previously worked at a different local private school, expressed that vaping on school grounds is presently an issue across many high schools.  

“We care about the physical health of our students … [we] understand the ill effects of vaping and how detrimental it can be,” Vardi said. 

When someone vapes near one of the detectors, an alert is sent to administrators. Administrators then consult footage from cameras installed outside of the bathrooms, in order to identify with which to have further conversations.

Since the JDS Upper School campus serves both middle school and high school students, other factors needed to be considered when discussing the issue of vaping. Administrators felt strongly that middle schoolers should not be influenced by high school students in terms of experimentation with vaping, which made preventative measures a necessity. 

As for consequences, students who are caught vaping on school grounds are subjected to the repercussions outlined in the “​​Alcohol and Other Illegal Drugs Prohibited” section of the JDS Student Handbook. According to the Handbook, students who violate substance guidelines “are subject to disciplinary consequences that may include suspension, prohibition from participating in the Senior Capstone Trip, dismissal from the School, and/or police referral.” 

According to the email which was sent out the the JDS Upper School community and signed by Vardi and Middle School Principal Cassandra Batson, the vape detectors have gone off “numerous times” since their installation in December 2023, prompting conversations with students, parents and visitors who could have incited the alert. 

Despite these installations beginning in December, were made aware of the vape detectors two months later, in February. 

“I do think that they should have told us that they were [installing vape detectors] before the fact instead of after,” junior Molly Wollner said. “I think that it is our right to know what’s being installed in the school that could potentially harm us or get us in trouble.”

Paulette Kaffee, mother of junior Hannah Kaffee, had heard about the vaping problem from her daughter in a Montgomery County Public School, but was unaware of its prevalence at JDS. 

“I think it’s a good idea … as a deterrent for kids who might consider vaping,” Kaffee said. 

With vaping being a common practice in school bathrooms, Vardi hopes that these detectors will protect the physical safety of her students. She hopes that Upper School students know that administrators  “care deeply” about their well being, and aim to protect the safety of those who enter the school.

“We care about the health and safety of everybody in our community, and that means having [a] smoke free, vape free school,” Vardi said. “And when something does happen, it’s about having a conversation about what’s best for that student.” 

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About the Contributor
Lily Rulnick
Lily Rulnick, Editor-in-Chief
Lily Rulnick is thrilled to serve as Editor-in-Chief on the Lion’s Tale after being on the paper since freshman year. Lily has so much faith in the incredible staff and cannot wait to work with them to make the Lion’s Tale shine. Apart from the Lion’s Tale, Lily is president of the Ceramics Club, the student representative on the Health and Wellness Taskforce, captain of the Girls Varsity Tennis Team, and a Student Admissions Representative. For fun, Lily loves to play piano, read fashion magazines, ski, and spend time with her friends, family, and two dogs. Lily cannot wait to continue to put all she has into the Lion’s Tale and make it the best it can be. 

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