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Back To School: Have Your Highlighter Ready?

by | Sep 10, 2023 | RE@L StudentCorner | 0 comments


Another school year has begun, and our educators are faced with more and more challenges on just about every level. Districts struggle to pay their teachers at levels commensurate with other professionals. School curriculum is being challenged at levels never seen before, and the contents of some books in the school library are being called into question, pressuring local officials to institute book bans. Welcome back! Right?

If that’s not enough, teachers will face more and more students this year who will not have the capacity to afford the necessary school supplies. As a result, the average educator will spend hundreds of dollars of their own money purchasing needed supplies for the classroom. You’ve seen the supply lists. Some of them are daunting if not unreasonable. But they are still needed.

A recent post on estimates that teachers spend on the average $820 per year on classroom supplies to augment what the school is unable to provide and what the parents are unable to afford. But that does not come close to covering what’s necessary. It’s why parents and their students typically engage in a mass scramble purchase of student supplies right up to the start of the school year.



Question: Were highlighters included on your school’s student supply list this year? If so, you had better check them out — and I mean carefully!

Just when we thought big tobacco companies were acquiescing to the pressures of lawsuits, here comes the next BIG thing for educators to address in schools: the highlighter vape. That’s right, those highlighters that students are bringing into classrooms just might have the nicotine kick to which they’ve become acclimated. 



Courtesy: CBS Video News

A recent report from CBS News warns parents about these highlighters. Be sure to add them to your list of other cleverly disguised nicotine consumption methods that companies use to introduce and perpetuate a bad, unhealthy habit for students! 

Hiding vapes in plain sight is not a new strategy of making consumption easier for young people and more difficult for adults to catch them. It is a long-held game plan by companies to normalize addictive behaviors in children. Perhaps that’s why students have taken to vapes that look like USB thumb drives. What looks like a storage device protruding from the side of the laptop, may not be one. 


In schools where students are allowed to wear hoodies, for instance, it’s very likely that some students are vaping — in class — when the teacher may not be looking. There are many ways that companies looking for a profit by any means necessary are finding schemes to disguise the delivery of nicotine to young people. For a good review, you may wish to read this article from Healthline: 


As if our educators didn’t have enough on their plates, these nefarious means of disguising nicotine delivery methods is enough to send one ‘over the top.’ It can be an endless cycle of futility for educators! A teacher stops a lesson to address a student who is vaping or is in possession of a vaping device. The teacher contacts the building administrator. The building administrator investigates, takes disciplinary action, and calls the parents to notify them. Imagine the amount of time this takes from the learning process — a teacher who interrupts a lesson — a principal who must address behavior instead of instruction. No one wins in this dubious cycle.

At RE@L, we encourage educators to do even more when it comes to teaching students about tobacco use PREVENTION. Initial education, which commonly occurs in a middle school curriculum, is SO important, and it could be enhanced with RE@L’s 1Up On Vaping™. It’s a web-based graphic arts story which places the student as a main character who interacts with others while learning about the impact of nicotine on the human body. Full of games, puzzles, and an engaging, ‘stellar’ plot, it can be a game changer for the school that’s trying to address teen nicotine use through more than just consequences and punishments. Check out 1Up On Vaping™ here ————————>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Some of our graphics are provided courtesy of:


Randy Nelson


Randy Nelson is a retired educator of 38 years. He served students as a high school speech, theater, and English teacher. He served colleagues as a director of curriculum and instruction; and, most recently he served the La Crosse, WI school district as its superintendent of schools. He has a strong leadership track record promoting choice and innovation via unique community partnerships. He currently serves RE@L, inc as its Director of Education.