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Tobacco Education & Advocacy of the Midlands (T.E.A.M.) members recognized Conestoga students this past week for their work in strengthening the school’s tobacco-free policy. From left, T.E.A.M. Sarpy County Coordinator Autumn Sky Burns, Conestoga senior Cooper Moore, Conestoga senior Riley Zimmerman, Conestoga senior Morgan Wurtele, Conestoga senior Jacob Drake, T.E.A.M. Cass County Coordinator Becky Smart, Plattsmouth Chamber of Commerce Executive Director and T.E.A.M. Steering Committee member Cindy Cruse and Conestoga Junior/Senior High School Principal David Friedli.

CONESTOGA – A local organization honored Conestoga Public Schools this past week for expanding the district’s drug-free policy to include new types of tobacco products.

Members of Tobacco Education & Advocacy of the Midlands (T.E.A.M.) came to Conestoga High School to present several plaques and awards. They honored the district for strengthening its drug policy to remain a 100-percent tobacco-free campus. The new policy includes e-cigarettes and all vape products.

Conestoga senior Jacob Drake said several students decided to approach Conestoga Board of Education members about the possibility of updating the policy. They were concerned about the expanding use of e-cigarettes and vaping products and cartridges among teenagers. The group wanted to make sure those types of activities were officially forbidden on school property.

Drake and fellow seniors Cooper Moore, Riley Zimmerman and Morgan Wurtele were among those who wanted to help school board members write a new policy. The updated language prohibits all vape products and cartridges and all brands of e-cigarettes from being used on campus.

The new policy lists those items as drug paraphernalia. One possible consequence of having these products on Conestoga grounds is a long-term suspension from school.

“The small group of students who came and helped work with school board officials were able to help craft real change that has had a tangible impact on our school,” Drake said. “We’ve already seen the positive impacts of the policy change. Drug use in the school and on campus is virtually non-existent. I don’t think that could have been possible without active students starting a real dialogue and working directly with our school administration.”

Conestoga Junior/Senior High School Principal David Friedli encouraged students during their project. Conestoga Board of Education members Jason Nolting, Dean Nickels, Allison Welch, David Duzik, Tracey Priefert and Scott Moore approved the policy changes by a 6-0 vote. The changes apply to campuses at both Conestoga Elementary School and Conestoga Junior/Senior High School.

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