DIXFIELD — Students vaping and skipping classes are two of the “biggest issues” staff are dealing with at Dirigo High School, Regional School Unit 56 Superintendent and Principal Pam Doyen told the board of directors at their meeting on Tuesday.

The school has tried using some vaping or electronic cigarette detectors in school bathrooms but administrators “haven’t been particularly happy with how they work at this point,” Doyen said.

“(Technology Director Brian Keene has) been continuing to talk to other people about which (detectors) work better so eventually I would like to see vape detectors in our bathrooms,” she said.

When students are caught vaping at the high school they must complete six weeks of drug counseling at the school, she said. “And I do that because they need to know what they are doing to themselves,” Doyen said. If they are caught vaping a second time, they receive an out-of-school suspension and if it’s their third time, they could receive a school expulsion, she said.

The other problematic issue at the school is students’ skipping classes, Doyen noted.

When students skip classes, they receive detention, and “they get delayed learning opportunities. So, if (students) missed it now, they’ll get you your learning opportunity later. I really think education is our (best choice) on (deterring vaping and skipping classes) so they can make good choices. In my mind, it’s about education.

“They are young adults, and they need to understand the consequences to this choice (to vape or skip classes) and what they are,” Doyen said.

In other business, high school students and T.W. Kelly Dirigo Middle School students will take part in Diversity Day on Jan. 16 at the high school, Doyen said.

“The purpose of Diversity Day is two-fold; one it’s to increase empathy between people and it’s just understanding our own biases,” she said. The school is seeking to have numerous presenters such as the Maine Holocaust Center, the Larry Labonte Center from Rumford, Lewiston High School’s Black Student Union and other people and organizations who will share their perspectives.

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