High schools confront vaping 'epidemic' | News | Palo Alto Online |


High schools confront vaping 'epidemic'

More surveillance cameras installed, staff patrolling at Paly

In order for all area residents to have important local information on the coronavirus health emergency, Palo Alto Online has lifted its pay meter and is providing unlimited access to its website. We need your support to continue our important work. Please join your neighbors and become a subscribing member today.
Palo Alto High School junior Ben Gordon stands outside the art building's boys' bathroom, which he said has become a site for frequent "Juul parties" during which students meet to vape and listen to music. Gordon and fellow members of the Paly Associated Student Body are working to address teen vape use. Photo by Veronica Weber.

Two bathrooms on Palo Alto High School's campus have earned a new reputation: They're the "vape bathrooms," known as hot spots for students using electronic cigarettes during school hours.

Administrators and student leaders are becoming increasingly concerned about the level of on-campus vaping, which is happening in bathrooms, on the quad, in parking lots and sometimes, even, in class. While e-cigarette use is more common at the district's two high schools, students say it's trickling down into the middle schools as well.

"It's a constant situation," said Paly junior site-council representative Ben Gordon. "Probably you could find a kid at any time on campus vaping. It's really serious on campus and even more serious off campus."

At Paly, Gordon and student body president Vivian Feng are working with Principal Adam Paulson to address the issue through education, including sponsoring a community town hall later this month. Meanwhile, the administration has installed more cameras on campus and has staff more frequently patrolling known vaping spots, Paulson wrote in a message to families in late September.

"This is a challenge that will require efforts from the school, as well as parents and students, in order to successfully shift the culture of vaping both on campus and in students' lives away from Paly," Paulson wrote. Paulson did not grant an interview for this story.

Schools across the country are grappling with teenage e-cigarette use, to the point that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) declared last month that it has reached "an epidemic proportion": more than 2 million middle and high school students were regular users of e-cigarettes last year. E-cigarette use skyrocketed between 2011 to 2017, going from 1.5 percent to 11.7 percent among high school students and from 0.6 percent to 3.3 percent among middle school students, according to the FDA.

The FDA told the companies that make some of the most popular devices -- including Juul, co-founded by two Stanford University graduate students -- that they had 60 days to prove they can keep the products away from minors. Federal law prohibits selling e-cigarettes to anyone under 18. Juul is meant for adult smokers and requires customers to be 21 years or older to purchase products online, but the company has faced sharp criticism for targeting teenagers, particularly through the marketing of flavors like mango and mint.

E-cigarettes, which were created as an alternative for adult smokers, use a liquid that may contain nicotine, as well as flavorings, propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin and other ingredients, according to the FDA. The liquid is heated to create an aerosol that the user inhales. Like second-hand smoke, bystanders can inhale the aerosol when it's exhaled into the air.

E-cigarette aerosol generally contains fewer toxic chemicals than cigarettes, but it is not harmless. One Juul cartridge, for example, contains the same amount of nicotine as a pack of cigarettes and lasts for about 200 puffs, depending on individual use, the company estimates. One cartridge is equivalent to 20 cigarettes, according to a UCSF professor quoted in a CNN article.

Some e-cigarettes look like cigarettes and pens while others, like Juul, resemble USB flash drives.

The majority of Paly and Gunn students don't regularly use electronic cigarettes, though use is up from last year, according to the 2017-18 California Healthy Kids Survey. Eighty-eight percent of Paly freshmen and 83 percent of juniors said they have never used e-cigarettes or another vaping device. At Gunn, 94 percent of freshmen and 82 percent of juniors reported the same.

Low percentages of students said they had vaped in the prior month, according to the 2017-18 survey: 7 percent of freshmen and 9 percent of juniors at Paly, and at Gunn, 3 percent of freshman and 10 percent of juniors. Even fewer students had smoked cigarettes in the last 30 days.

Districtwide, 2 percent of seventh-graders reported ever smoking e-cigarettes. In response to requests from middle school parents, the Palo Alto Police Department's school resource officer gave presentations on vaping last spring. The Palo Alto Council of PTAs plans to discuss data and parent education related to vaping at its executive board meeting next week.

Student vaper: 'You can't stop it'

A 17-year-old Gunn High School senior who regularly vapes spoke with the Weekly on the condition of anonymity. He believes vaping is a safer alternative to cigarettes and other drugs and is well aware of the addictive nature of nicotine. He wants to become a psychologist and understands the negative impact nicotine and other drugs have on the developing teenage brain.

This doesn't prevent him from vaping on a daily basis.

"Nicotine -- I know it's bad for you, but it's better than smoking the same pack of cigarettes and having tar in my lungs. I'd rather juul and get my buzz," he said. "It's like cigarettes except it doesn't smell ... and you don't feel as guilty doing it."

He first tried an e-cigarette at the beginning of his sophomore year. His friend had a Suorin Drop, a small, pod-shaped device. He started vaping more regularly his junior year, when he purchased his own Juul.

Purchasing e-cigarettes, even as a minor, is not difficult, he said. Students use fake IDs, ask older students to buy a device for them or use their parents information to purchase a device online, like he did. (A Gunn senior got in trouble for selling Juul pods to underclassmen last year, he said.) He warned against buying devices on websites like eBay or Craigslist, which are known for peddling fake pods that can be dangerous, he said.

He vapes at school, in the bathroom, and in the car with friends. He likes the social aspect of it, but there's no peer pressure to do it, he said. He doesn't believe vaping is addictive, though every time he uses a Juul he sees a warning message printed on the device in big, black letters: "WARNING: This product contains nicotine. Nicotine is an addictive chemical."

The Gunn senior cuts down his use each year for sports season without any withdrawal symptoms, he said. Feng, however, said a close friend at Paly tried to stop vaping during an intense period of studying together, became nauseous and quickly gave in to her cravings.

The Gunn senior admitted: "If I was juuling since I was 12 and doing it every day, that may be an issue for me."

He's seen the Gunn administration crack down on e-cigarette use somewhat, including by checking bathrooms, but doesn't believe it's been effective.

"They're doing the best they can," he said. "We're high schoolers. We're not stupid. We're smart. We're going to hide (it). You can't stop it."

Gunn Principal Kathie Laurence did not respond to a request for comment.

At Paly, e-cigarettes have created a social divide between students who vape and those who think it's "unacceptable," Feng said. For those who openly use e-cigarettes, it's a form of social status -- students post pictures and videos of themselves smoking on and off campus on social media -- and don't see it as a big deal, Gordon said.

Part of the culture is "we're not smoking cigarettes, so it can't be that bad," he said.

On the other side are students, particularly underclassmen, who feel uncomfortable going to the bathroom when students are vaping there, and those who are alarmed about the potential long-term health impacts of e-cigarettes but don't feel comfortable confronting their peers about it.

The students believe raising awareness -- including by having student-leaders speak out, providing feedback to the administration (including directly from students who vape), posting educational signs on campus and having assemblies -- will start to bridge that divide and be more impactful than discipline. They see this as a long-term problem for Paly that won't be solved this year or with a one-off school assembly. Vaping is this generation's cigarette epidemic, Feng said.

"You just need to change the idea of what it does to you," she said.


Follow the Palo Alto Weekly/Palo Alto Online on Twitter @PaloAltoWeekly and Facebook for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

We need your support now more than ever. Can we count on you?


8 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 5, 2018 at 8:45 am

Back in my day it was cigarettes. Same arguments, same situation, same problem, just a different method to contaminate the body.

"We're high schoolers. We're not stupid. We're smart. We're going to hide (it). You can't stop it." . The voice of youth, never changes.

1 person likes this
Posted by Samuel L.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 5, 2018 at 9:35 am

Samuel L. is a registered user.

The focus seems to be mostly on Paly. Is it an issue at Gunn, also?

19 people like this
Posted by R.Davis
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 5, 2018 at 9:50 am

R.Davis is a registered user.

Blame the tobacco industry (along with these device innovators) who are now promoting vaping as a modern alternative & safe way to smoke.

Talk about 'truth in advertising'. Is it time for yet another lawsuit?

Big money is being made on this advertising hyperbole and kids will be kids...along with some adults who ought to know better.

16 people like this
Posted by Message to Paly Admin
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 5, 2018 at 12:46 pm

Message to Paly Admin is a registered user.

Dear Paly Admin,

As a Paly Parent with first-hand knowledge of students vaping during/around/after school, I was glad to see the letter from Principal Paulson on 9/20 describing the issue as an epidemic on campus. Acknowledging the problem, along with the FDA, is the first step (even though it's been present on campus for several years now). Thank you!

With that said, the material you provided to parents, while useful to parents as an educational resource, is ineffective for speaking with teens. As you know, parents can talk to teens until they are blue in the face about how vaping/nicotine affects a developing brain and it will have zero effect on their behavior. Exhibit A: the young man quoted anonymously above who is obviously smart and knows all the risks but continues to vape anyway. It's exactly because teens' brains are still developing that some lack the analytical and long term view to care about the risks. It's an illogical loop! How can a parent have a discussion with teens about the long term risks of addiction when their undeveloped brains have no ability to think long term? And talking to teens about risks as a method of deterrence? They LOVE taking risks! A different approach is needed. Bribes, discipline, or both. But expecting teens to change behavior based on an understanding of and buy-in of long term risks is delusional.

8 people like this
Posted by Message to Paly Admin
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 5, 2018 at 12:55 pm

Message to Paly Admin is a registered user.

P.S. Great job Paly Junior Class President Ben Gordon and other Student Body members trying to address this vaping problem! I hope the school administration listens carefully to your suggestions about how to deal with the issue since you will know best what will motivate your peers.

8 people like this
Posted by Been Vaping Since 12
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Oct 5, 2018 at 2:03 pm

Vaping is enjoyable and doesn't annoy others like cigarette smoke. Less airborne pollutants as well. Different flavors for different tastes.

Hoping this matter gets squared away before I enter Paly. Not going to quit.

19 people like this
Posted by Paly Mom
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 5, 2018 at 2:18 pm

I can't completely read the sign on the bathroom door. Are they not allowing usage of bathrooms all day? How can they not allow someone to use a toilet? My son went to school nauseated the other day. He texted me and asked me to pick him up because he felt a diarrhea brewing. So I picked him up at lunch and he came home to use our bathroom. I am a stay-at-home mom and he could wait. What about someone who has to use the toilet immediately? He told me the only ones always available are in the gym (far away) and another location. Again, how can they disallow the toilets to the majority to discourage the minority rebels? Next thing, national headlines will be "Palo Alto High School won't allow students access to their bathrooms during the day."

14 people like this
Posted by Been Vaping Since 12
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Oct 5, 2018 at 2:36 pm

"How can they not allow someone to use a toilet?"

The restrooms should remain open at all times. I've seen some people vape while sitting on the toilet.

The best idea is to have a vaping section at each school. And if the restrooms are to be locked, have access keys that can be handed out to those who need to go.

30 people like this
Posted by Facts and Figures
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 5, 2018 at 3:04 pm

Facts and Figures is a registered user.

The teenage brain understands consequences. When the schools implement suspension (already allowed) as a consequence for vaping on school property, then on campus vaping will decline.

We are tiptoeing around a minority of the student body, allowing an illegal practice and more than inconveniencing the majority of students. Why?

There's no privilege to vape at school (Adults are not allowed to Vape on campus either). It's hard to understand why this is a problem. Implement consequences and the problem will radically decline.

Vapers who chose to (or need to) vape during school hours are certainly allowed to haul their bottoms off campus during lunch and before and after school.

13 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 5, 2018 at 3:37 pm

There used to be a tradition of seniors streaking, but that has been stopped.

How about using the same techniques to stop vaping? Vaping is a lot more dangerous for the adolescent body than streaking or even witnessing another student streaking. I would suggest that this trend to vape is given as much time, effort, and preventative control to suppressing the habit as was given to streaking.

21 people like this
Posted by YP
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 5, 2018 at 5:20 pm

YP is a registered user.

Since when is the burden on the school to stop activities like this? How about parents taking control of their kids. Our school administrators and teachers have other things to focus on like.... teaching our kids....

If you as a parent have a kid who is vaping or you think he/she is vaping you own it!!! Schools are expected to solve every issue that parents can't ?? come on

2 people like this
Posted by Against it
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 5, 2018 at 6:41 pm

Former parent here (Paly). This isn’t something necessary to do.
Please don’t vape at school.
Do what you want in your own time.
That’s different, you take some risks.

27 people like this
Posted by kids
a resident of another community
on Oct 5, 2018 at 9:49 pm

kids is a registered user.

Students in public school are guaranteed drug free campuses. That is not the case at Paly. One kid using the bathroom has to put up with many vaping because there is no supervision

22 people like this
Posted by Concerned Parent
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 5, 2018 at 10:46 pm

This appears to be getting out of hand. Maybe harsher punishments such as immediate expulsion or rehabilitation could quell this issue.

3 people like this
Posted by Bunyip
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 5, 2018 at 11:51 pm

It's a legal product with age restrictions for purchasing.

Instead of attacking the company in pick axe outrage, why don't you target the stores selling it to the youths? The companies are legal companies doing legal trade - the selective free market thinking of the paly hypocrites is outstanding.

12 people like this
Posted by Smarten Up
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 6, 2018 at 12:52 am

"I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!"

Every generation seems doomed to be its own Captain Renault. Yes--high schoolers get their hands on cigarettes. If it's not cigarettes, then it's e-cigarettes. What is old is new again. We should hardly be surprised.

Tobacco started reinventing itself the second we stopped them from advertising on television. We know, and have known for some time, that e-cigarettes are the new face of big tobacco. They've been marketed with great success to adults. In the immutable fashion of generations of teenagers before them, today's youth has picked up the trend.

PAUSD administrators would do well to remember that bathroom monitors and cameras do not dissuade people from smoking. It certainly didn't when their ilk were bumming cigarettes in parking lots in the 1970s. It won't now, either.

The only thing that we know works to reduce rates of smoking, not just among teens, but in the population overall, is preventative education. We must provide our youth with comprehensive, accurate assessments of risk in the use of vaporized nicotine. We must provide credible medical advice, as we did with smoking a generation ago, which speaks to the toll of nicotine on the body.

Moreover, we must ask our legislators to regulate nicotine in the same way that tobacco is regulated--through taxation and message control. We should demand plain packaging laws, we should demand a ban on advertising, and we should provide resources for smoking cessation that are geared towards this next generation of nicotine addicts.

Let us be outraged. Let us be appalled by the resurgence of tobacco use--it is doubtless one of the great failings of public health and public policy of our times. Yet let us not be naive. Disciplining kids who smoke doesn't work. Banning cigarettes and e-cigarettes from campus doesn't work. Upping the ante on punishment only romanticizes the transgressive behavior.

Ultimately, they are caught in the same vice-like grip that tobacco has always had on this country. If we're going to do something about it, let's do something about it. Waffling about patrolling bathrooms is a waste of everybody's time and money. If you want to see things change, demand it from your legislators, not your children.

17 people like this
Posted by No Bathrooms during Class?!
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 6, 2018 at 8:19 pm

Isn’t that an OSHA violation to lock access to bathrooms, given a student body of over 2,000 students, not including staff members?

There’s gotta be a better way to deter vaping. And it ain’t gonna be locking bathrooms when students gotta piss and poo...

Wait until there’s a body of parents complaining and preparing a litigation with lawyers, I already feel it.

21 people like this
Posted by Keep Restrooms Accessible
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 6, 2018 at 10:03 pm

>> Wait until there’s a body of parents complaining and preparing a litigation with lawyers, I already feel it.

Especially after some kid deprived of going to the restroom (1) accidentally poops in his pants; (2) is subjected to ridicule by the other students; (3) refuses to go back to school; (4) requires counseling to overcome personal trauma and embarrassment; (5) does something drastic/tragic.

8 people like this
Posted by Palo Verde Parent
a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 6, 2018 at 11:58 pm

Closing some of the bathrooms so that the open bathrooms can be better monitored makes good sense. I don't think anyone is saying to close or lock all of the bathrooms, just some of them.

1 person likes this
Posted by Former Jordan parent
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Oct 7, 2018 at 9:16 am

This talk of locking bathrooms reminds me of the time my daughter was at Jordan. A new principal came in and told students that they could not be in the main corridors during lunch - something to do with rain, or heat but I can't remember the details. The problem was it cut down the number of available bathrooms the girls could use. For a few weeks of this rule the girls were lining up at the available bathrooms for the duration of lunch. In the end the principal had to relent and let the students use the corridors at lunch time so that the bathrooms could be accessed.

Does anyone else remember the details of this?

5 people like this
Posted by Rex
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 7, 2018 at 8:39 pm

I have always thought smoking makes one look stupid, not to mention that you, your home, clothes, car, etc., now smell like singed s**t. Vapers make smokers look cool, except they stink like old bubble gum, So cool. I fully expect that in the years to come it will be clear that vaping propylene glycol, glycerin, 'flavorings' and what ever else in that stuff will be the root cause of a list of respiratory problems. Did I mention the stupid thing?

16 people like this
Posted by Big Tobacco Lies Again.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 8, 2018 at 1:07 pm

Big Tobacco Lies Again. is a registered user.

A question: If vaping is not addictive, why do you need to vape at school?

The same tobacco industry that marketed smoking to kids a generation ago, telling them that it was cool and safe, is now marketing to this generation. For-profit Liars. Don't be their patsy.

Many of my smoking high school friends of 40 years ago have since suffered from lung cancer and other terrible smoking-related illnesses--even though many of them quit after high school. I trust that the vast majority of kids are smart enough to make informed, thoughtful choices. I hope they are taught about the history of these awful companies. We know from experience that tobacco/ cigarette companies cannot be trusted. They are highly motivated by profits, and they have demonstrated that they are perfectly willing to lie about the effects of smoking on public health.

Please don't lock the bathrooms, but it wouldn't be a bad thing to monitor them occasionally--for a lot of safety reasons--not just vaping. Kids who are going to smoke will smoke. Locking a bathroom won't stop them.

Finally, with the current administration in the White House, I really think that believing these companies are being properly regulated is probably a little naive. I bet most of our kids are smarter than that.

3 people like this
Posted by More than one school
a resident of Gunn High School
on Oct 9, 2018 at 10:07 am

I know it's hard to police the vaping, but when it was cigarettes you could smell the acrid smell and know it was going on. CA law requires cigarettes to be smoked outside. Now, because the distinct smell is gone, adults don't know where or if it is happening (oftentimes indoors). The issue that irritates me the most is now non-smokers/vapers are exposed to second hand smoke at a higher rate. Teens who smoke cigarettes at school are forced to smoke outside. Teens who vape can vape more indoors (library, bathrooms, some sneak hits in class when the teacher isn't looking, etc.). In addition to fruit flavored cartridges, there are marijuana cartridges too.

As for locking bathrooms, this is done at Gunn as well. When I asked my daughter if it ever has inconvenienced her, she said no (but she knows others who have).

16 people like this
Posted by Common Sense
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 9, 2018 at 9:49 pm

Locking the bathrooms during class time does absolutely nothing. People who want to vape are going to find a way to vape regardless of which bathrooms are locked and which are not. All that locking the bathrooms is doing is inconveniencing everyone who actually needs to use the restroom for its intended purpose during class time, forcing them to walk across campus to find one that is actually open.

Preventing students from using bathrooms by locking them is plain stupid. It defeats the purpose of having bathrooms in the first place. Would you build 5 new classrooms just to have them locked and unusable? No, because that's idiotic. You may as well tear down every bathroom on campus and make students go in the bushes. Being able to perform bowel movements in a private space is a basic human right.

Please stop locking the bathrooms.

[Portion removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language]

23 people like this
Posted by Not ON CAMPUS
a resident of Gunn High School
on Oct 10, 2018 at 1:21 pm

Such a shame that decent, law-abiding students are inconvenienced (almost "punished") by locked bathrooms because of the actions of risk-seeking, rule-breaking rebels.
Create a harsh punishment for vapers. Aren't all school campuses supposed to be smoke-free and drug-free spaces?

Caught vaping on campus during school hours or after? One week suspension, no chance for make-up work. No warning period. State the rule, state the consequence. Second offense? It should get referred to the legal system. Drugs are illegal on school campuses.

Our students are smart. Some want to take risks. Know the risks. You roll the dice, you get the result. Boom. Immediately.

Students who are making the RIGHT choices should NOT feel uncomfortable on their own school campus. I am tired of the decent, rule-abiders being more inconvenienced and negatively affected than rule-breakers.

What students do during their own time and off-campus - that the school does NOT need to patrol. Self-inflicted addiction is sadly very difficult for any outside influence to change.

19 people like this
Posted by Not ON CAMPUS
a resident of Gunn High School
on Oct 10, 2018 at 1:36 pm

@ Been Vaping Since 12

So SAD for you. You are letting greedy corporations take your money and turn you into an addicted slave for them.

Also, you are wrong.
"...doesn't annoy others like cigarette smoke. Less airborne pollutants as well."
It clearly DOES annoy others. Fellow students should not be subjected to your pointless, misty addiction. LESS airborne pollutants does not mean NO pollutants.
Other students at school who do not want to be around vaping are being negatively affected by this.

Vape at your own home around the dinner table with your family.
Do not vape at a public school.

Adult employees and visitors to schools are not permitted to vape there. Students should not be either. Immediate removal from campus.

9 people like this
Posted by Not ON CAMPUS
a resident of Gunn High School
on Oct 10, 2018 at 1:50 pm

Sincere, honest question:
What would happen to a student who brought alcohol onto campus and was caught drinking with friends in the bathroom?

(Please don't answer he would end up on the Supreme Court. My sense of humor isn't robust these days.)

11 people like this
Posted by Been Vaping Since 12
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Oct 10, 2018 at 2:05 pm

Nicotine like caffeine is relatively harmless though highly addictive to some.
Unlike cigarettes, vaping removes the tar and toxic gases harmful to one's health.

It is a safer alternative to conventional smoking. Kids today are smarter than our parents who may have smoked when they were younger. Then again, vaping hadn't been invented yet.

Vaping is also good for those who smoke pot as it cleanses the smoke and only allows the good stuff in. The THC that gets you high.

10 people like this
Posted by Sensible
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 10, 2018 at 4:18 pm

Student at paly here.
So according to multiple reports, a single 'pod' has about as much nicotine as a whole pack of cigarettes. Thats alot. California law thats that anyone under 21 cannot vape legally. It is against the law for teens to vape, and the school admins are knowing disregarding this. Also later on in life, its possible that the teens will get 'popcorn lung' from juuling. Everytime I walk into the bathroom at paly, there can be anywhere from 1 - 15 people vaping, making it very uncomfortable for me. The 'pods' contain lots of mercury, lithium, and multiple other dangerous chemicals. The admins need to implement an immediate 1 week suspension, and a referall for anyone caught vaping.

4 people like this
Posted by Facts and Figures
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 10, 2018 at 4:39 pm

Facts and Figures is a registered user.


Many parents agree with you 100% on your full post.

School Board and Administrators. District policies allow suspension, the consequence that @Sensible suggests, namely, "The admins need to implement an immediate 1 week suspension, and a referall for anyone caught vaping." (Note, I have no idea what a referall is.) But, the suspension is allowed.

Please increase the consequences. Students are smart. After a few kids are actually suspended, this nonsense will certainly slow down, and maybe even stop.

Do we need a catchy slogan, "Let our people go" "Set our bathrooms free"? Seriously, what does it take?

20 people like this
Posted by Looking Back
a resident of Gunn High School
on Oct 10, 2018 at 4:50 pm

Kids will be kids. Why not just have a vaping section at school. There was a smoking hill at Gunn when I attended high school there.

No need for detention and suspensions.

4 people like this
Posted by Paly Mom
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 12, 2018 at 1:38 pm


Today, the restrooms on campus will return to being open throughout the school day with the exception of the 100-building restroom near the MAC. This restroom will be closed for inspection and repairs.

My sincere hope is that the false fire alarms have come to an end. Unfortunately, a few students have had to learn firsthand that triggering a false alarm is a very serious crime that can result in a multiple day suspension, a citation from the police as well as a fine ranging from $500-$1000 dollars. I am currently in communication with the Fire Marshall who is interested in helping with educational efforts. He wants to make clear to students that false alarms take away crucial resources that are meant to be utilized by those who are truly in need.

I have faith that students will begin to make better choices when it comes to vaping. It is not only bad for your health, but also triggers the alarm system. Causing an alarm by any means will result in the consequences outlined above. I will continue working with our student leadership and Wellness Team to bring more information about the health effects and addictive nature of vaping products. Vaping anywhere on campus is against school rules and also results in disciplinary action. More importantly, it detracts from the positive school culture we’v e worked so hard together to create.

Paly students, in the vast majority of cases, will do the right thing. I know we can continue to partner to keep our campus a safe and welcoming community.

With Gratitude,

Mr. Paulson
Adam Paulson
Palo Alto High School

8 people like this
Posted by No Biggie
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 12, 2018 at 3:15 pm

So the key is to vape where there are no fire alarms. That can easily be accomplished.

Vape in the parking lot.

Like this comment
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 15, 2018 at 9:36 am

Posted by Paly Mom, a resident of Palo Alto High School, on Oct 12, 2018 at 1:38 pm

Thank you Paly Mom for posting this.

>> I have faith that students will begin to make better choices when it comes to vaping. It is not only bad for your health, but also triggers the alarm system. [...] Vaping anywhere on campus is against school rules and also results in disciplinary action. More importantly, it detracts from the positive school culture we’v e worked so hard together to create. [...] -- Adam Paulson, Principal, Palo Alto High School

@Adam Paulson:

Mr. Paulson, as a senior -citizen- who attended high school back in the mid-20th century, I would appreciate it if you would consider an alternate approach. I agree with you that vaping is a serious health hazard, but, so was smoking back in my day, and, many smoked anyway. Despite being "against school rules". My request is that you consider this approach: create a no-citation zone somewhere outside, and, move the problem from the restrooms to the outside zone. It didn't solve the smoking problem back in my day, but, it did solve the restroom problem.

Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Get fact-based reporting on the COVID-19 crisis sent to your inbox daily.

Singapore's oldest cafe was about to open in Palo Alto. Then, the coronavirus hit.
By Elena Kadvany | 2 comments | 5,878 views

Coronavirus Food Safety Update + New! Insider Tips
By Laura Stec | 7 comments | 5,297 views

A Pragmatic Approach to A Trillion Trees
By Sherry Listgarten | 4 comments | 4,213 views

Repairing a Disagreement with your Beloved & “Physical” vs. “Social” Distancing
By Chandrama Anderson | 2 comments | 2,903 views

The University of California’s flexible policies during COVID-19
By John Raftrey and Lori McCormick | 6 comments | 2,759 views



The 34th Annual Palo Alto Weekly Short Story Contest is now accepting entries for Adult, Young Adult and Teen categories. Send us your short story (2,500 words or less) and entry form by April 10, 2020. First, Second and Third Place prizes awarded in each category. Sponsored by Kepler's Books, Linden Tree Books and Bell's Books.

Contest Details