Administration’s “HornetWatch” uses student reports to help combat vaping

Mia DiLorenzo, page editor

As Edina students contribute to the vaping epidemic within the school, the Edina High School administration is attempting to create cost-effective solutions to combat the growing issue. HornetWatch emulates a neighborhood watch program, where students “report” to the administration if they see students doing something against school policy, namely vaping. The program relies mainly upon students to alert administrators, which is completely different than other models that the school has tried. “We thought we could use the power of all the students that don’t [vape], which is the vast majority of students, to let us know if someone is abusing their privileges,” Principal Andy Beaton said.

When HornetWatch initially launched, it was received with some amount of insincerity among the students. Many students took the system as a joke and used it to report false incidents. However, Beaton said that the number of fraudulent reports has decreased as HornetWatch has become a part of EHS protocol. “Once that initial rush [of false reports] happened, we’ve been fine. Most reports we get are now legitimate,” Beaton said. Last year alone, vaping caused 75% of all disciplinary actions; with the implementation of HornetWatch, Beaton hopes to eventually decrease that percentage, which would be indicative of a smaller population that uses vaping products at school.

Edina also offers solutions to those seeking to stop their chemical dependency, usually caused by vaping products. Counselor Chris Lawler was hired last year by the administration to assist students as they enter rehabilitation. Rather than just focusing on penalizing students, it became important to offer a route where addiction services were provided. 

While HornetWatch isn’t solely used to report the vaping epidemic in the high school, its reports have been largely focused on vaping within school bathrooms, locker rooms, and hallways. Beaton said that the addition of these programs allows for a more multifaceted approach to tackle issues within the school; services such as a chemical dependency counselor and HornetWatch have proven to be successful as the administration uses different tactics to decrease the spread of illicit behaviors within the school.