March 5, 2020
A common joke hovering around the halls of Atholton High School is that Mr. Motley is the students’ benevolent ruler. What if that was more than just a recurring meme? It is.
Over the summer, Motley was selected to be the president-elect of the National Association of Secondary School Principals. While in this new position, he has advocated to Congress on behalf of principals across the nation, and no issue is more important to him than vaping.
“What was gleaned from [testifying before congress] was the notion that the vaping industry is creating a generation of young people hooked on nicotine. Even more disturbing is the lack of regulation in the industry that puts the lives of our young people in danger with chemicals found in some cartridges that can kill,” said Mr. Motley.
Since he assumed his new position as principal of Atholton last year, Mr. Motley has made it his mission to keep drugs off of the school’s campus, with coffee being one of the more controversial topics of discussion between administration and students. His fight against coffee pales in comparison to the measures he has taken to combat juuling, his biggest act being installing sensors on the bathroom doors that lock the doors if smoke from a juul is detected.
Of course, nothing in the world can be perfect. The problem of locking the bathroom doors is students losing access to the bathrooms, and all because of one person’s misstep. Motley described the situation as “an unfortunate by-product” of administration’s efforts. Another by-product of this was what was a petition to unlock the music hallway bathroom planted on its door.
These current efforts, in the eyes of the principal, are not enough. In the near future, Motley hopes that there is a mandatory meeting for parents about the problems with juuls à la the safe driving meeting required for a parking pass. He also is collaborating with some anti-drug groups, such as HC Drugfree, in an effort to get them to talk to students about why juuling is a massive danger to their health. “You have a generation of students getting hooked on nicotine and no one is talking about this! Just as students view cigarettes as unhealthy, so should they view vaping. It is just as bad, if not worse,” Mr. Motley said.
It is a war that has been going on for decades: drug companies vs. school higher-ups. The higher-ups in schools have been attempting to provide an environment free from toxins, while the big tobacco businesses find new ways to sell nicotine to a younger, notably illegal, demographic.
Motley believes that some responsibilities are shared between administrators, who must provide a non-toxic environment, and students, who are required to maintain said environment. He, however, believes that parents are also somewhat in charge of alleviating this problem, stating they all “have a responsibility to monitor what their students are doing. Just because they are 17 or 18 does not mean they always know what is best. Parents have to understand this.”