CCSD to Install Vape Detectors in High School Bathrooms

Vaping Graphic

Vaping is an epidemic affecting young people everywhere. Adolescents are enticed by the flashy packaging, fruity flavors and engaging marketing campaigns. To help protect the health and safety of our students, our district has taken significant measures to prevent students from vaping on school grounds.

The district has invested in state-of-the-art vape detectors that will be installed in every high school bathroom by the end of December to detect when students are vaping and ultimately discourage it. Our staff is already on high alert when it comes to vaping, but we believe this will be an additional deterrent for students who might be vaping in between classes.

The district is also developing partnerships with local health authorities to implement preventative measures and educational programs on vaping for students and families. The district currently partners with local agencies providing Alcohol and Other Drugs (AoD) counseling services for students, as well as education within classrooms and extracurricular groups to ensure students are aware of the dangers of vaping and other drug use.

While district leaders are committed to doing everything possible to help mitigate vaping in our schools, it’s just as important for parents to be aware of the dangers of vaping and to take preventative measures at home.

“We encourage parents, guardians and community members to work together to educate students and other young people on the dangers of vaping,” said Sarah Hawthorne, high school guidance counselor at CCSD. “We urge them to talk openly with their students about concerns and about the studies that have been released on the detriment of vaping. Having open conversations about what is going on in students’ lives allows for parents and guardians to support them in healthy ways.”

Along with the addictive and damaging effects of nicotine, vapes use chemicals for flavoring that poison the human body, resulting in lung disease, cancer and in serious cases, even death. Since vaping is a new phenomenon, there isn’t a lot of research on its long-term effects on the body and brain.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nicotine can harm the developing adolescent brain in the short-term, but scientists are still learning about the long-term health effects of vaping in general. Some ingredients in e-cigarette aerosol could be harmful to the lungs in the long-term, but there isn’t enough research to know how those harmful effects will manifest. According to the CDS, aerosol can contain nicotine, ultrafine particles, volatile organic compounds, cancer-causing chemicals, and heavy metals such as nickel, tin and lead.

E-cigarettes are advertised using themes and tactics that have been shown to increase youth initiation of other tobacco products, including cigarettes. Research from the CDC showed that about 8 in 10 middle school and high school students – more than 20 million adolescents – said they had seen e-cigarette advertising.

We encourage families to talk to their student today about the dangers of vaping. For more information and resources on how to start that conversation, contact Sarah Hawthorne at

Staff Participating in Literacy Training at Ohio State University

Literacy Graphic

As a district, we’re working hard to take measures to improve our students’ literacy, including investing in professional development for our teaching staff and in proven curriculum programming. This year we have partnered with The Ohio State University’s Literacy Collaborative, a research-based instruction model for literacy training and learning aligned to the Common Core Reading Standards.

The curriculum is specific to grades K-8 and focuses on the essential elements of phonics, word study and oral language development. It also provides students with many opportunities for authentic reading and writing opportunities, and features reading and writing workshops, including guided reading. The model provides our staff with options on how to teach literacy curriculum, because we know every student learns and absorbs information differently.

“The primary school staff is expanding their knowledge of the components of a balanced literacy program,” said primary school principal Joanna Strawser. “The first component we’re working on is interactive read-alouds, during which teachers read a story to their class and ask the students four specific questions as they read. The teachers ask what the students are thinking, noticing, feeling and wondering. We hope the interactive read-alouds will develop a joy of reading.”

The Chillicothe City Schools’ K-3 teachers and all school principals are participating in intensive Literacy Collaborative professional development throughout the school year. Teachers will immediately begin to implement strategies they are taught, in order to increase students’ reading, writing and language skills. Our goal is for students to read on grade level by the end of this school year.

To learn more about the Literacy Collaborative, contact Joanna Strawser at

CCSD Response to Recent Threat

Chillicothe Logo


The below statement may be attributed in its entirety to Deborah Swinehart, superintendent, Chillicothe City School District, regarding rumors of a threat to Chillicothe High School.


(October 30, 2019) “Student safety is of the highest priority to our district, and we are firmly committed to keeping our students and staff out of harm’s way. It has been brought to our attention that there are rumors circulating of a potential gun threat at Chillicothe High School.

“We know this is concerning, and we have been working closely with the Chillicothe Police Department to investigate the threat and interview students and parents about the matter. Through their extensive investigation, they have determined there is no credible threat to students or our school. The police department is providing extra security to the high school today.

“School safety is an effort that takes vigilance by all of us. This is an important reminder that when we see something, we need to say something. Please contact us immediately if you have any concerns about student behavior or learn of any issues that might impact the safety of our students and schools.”


New School Safety Measures in Place

At CCSD, the health and safety of our students is of the utmost importance to the administration and staff. We have and always will go to great lengths to provide our students with a safe and secure learning environment, and this year is no exception. Although intruder incidents are rare, several updates have been made to the district’s safety plans to ensure our students and staff are safe in the event of an incident.

This year, we are partnering with the ALICE Training Institute (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate) to better prepare our staff in responding to a potentially dangerous situation. ALICE is considered the number one active shooter civilian response training for all organizations and is widely used by schools across the country. In fact, more than 5,500 K-12 school districts have used the ALICE training method. Early this year, CCSD staff will participate in online response courses and active shooter trainings, and the overall district plan for safety will be evaluated by the ALICE Institute. At the conclusion of the training, the district will become ALICE Certified.

“We’re really looking forward to implementing the ALICE training program,” says Aaron Brown, director of secondary services and safety for CCSD. “The safety of our students and staff is the highest priority for the district. It’s imperative we give our staff the tools and training they need to respond safely in the unlikely event of an unwanted intruder.”

In addition to implementing the ALICE program, the district is focused on making all buildings more secure by installing state-of-the-art camera systems, a new key card entry system, and placing full-time resource officers and assigned local law enforcement officers in every building. In addition, two new initiatives focused on feedback from students and parents have been established.

“We want students and parents to feel safe through added security measures and training, but we also want to give them the resources they need to feel like they have agency in school safety as well,” says Brown. “That’s why we’ve created the Student Safety Council and implemented a Safe School Helpline.”

The Student Safety Council was created to give students a voice in our school safety protocols by providing feedback to the administration on current plans and identifying areas for improvement. The Safe School Helpline gives parents and students the opportunity to anonymously communicate their safety concerns, like bullying or threats, to district administration. Students and parents can call 1-800-418-6423 ext. 359 or go online at

For more information about district safety plans and contact procedures, contact Aaron Brown at  

Students Learn Valuable Skills Through STEM

It’s critical for students to have a well-rounded education so they are best suited for any career they choose to pursue. In fact, a 2018 study by Global Jobs Report concluded that nearly three out of four children entering primary school will hold jobs that don’t currently exist. To ensure students are getting the skills they need to one day hold those positions, Chillicothe City School District developed and implemented a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) program for students in kindergarten through second grade. Last year, the district applied for STEM designation and quickly received it – a major accomplishment considering the program was established only two years prior. Now, the primary school has one of only four K-2 STEM programs in central Ohio.

CCSD STEM staff chose to integrate the program into schools with grades K-2 so that students wouldn’t have to wait until high school to be introduced to STEM curriculum. The goal is for students to be well-acquainted with STEM by the time they reach high school, as the curriculum is developed to immerse students in the program on a daily basis.

“One area of focus we’ve implemented in students’ day-to-day learning is an engineering program called ‘Adventures in Innovation,’” says Dana Letts, STEM specialist. “All students in grades K-2 are given a special notebook to use for their lessons and are taught how to use steps in the engineering design process to solve problems written about popular children’s storybooks. We’re always working to find new, creative ways to keep students engaged in STEM.”

Another student-favorite is the Muddy Boots and Backpacks environmental science program. The K-6 program was established in partnership with the Ross County Parks District, allowing students to have free access to all park properties. Students learn how to conduct research and have the opportunity go on expeditions in search of answers to their questions.

“In our early introduction to environmental science, students study ‘mini beasts,’ which are insects, worms and spiders,” says Heather Tarlton, STEM facilitator. “They learn general information about mini beasts in kindergarten, dive into more detail in first grade and go on to focus specifically on pollinators by second grade. Building upon previous years’ lessons and utilizing hands-on education, makes students enthusiastic for what they’ll learn moving forward.”

In addition to fundamental STEM lessons that are integrated into students’ everyday curriculums, the district has also developed VOICE (Variety of Individualized Choices in Education) lessons. Students are asked to vote for subjects they want to learn more about, such as zoology or botany, giving them influence and ownership in what they learn. The most popular subjects are added to the curriculum, while the topics with fewer votes are still taught through smaller units that students can choose to participate. VOICE allows students to be inquisitive and explore their interests, so when they join the workforce someday, they will hopefully know where their passions lie.  

Letts and Tarlton are excited to see how the STEM program evolves and impacts students in the future. They hope students will take more risks, see failure as an opportunity and invest in their own learning, skills that are just as important as the core curriculum areas outside of STEM.

“In five years, we hope to be the model for STEM programs at other schools in the area,” says Letts. “Before we implemented our program, we were in a STEM desert – meaning there weren’t any districts with that designation between Columbus and Cincinnati. We want to be able to give our kids, and kids in surrounding areas, a cutting-edge education.”

Recent Posts

CCSD Response to Recent Threat
New School Safety Measures in Place
Students Learn Valuable Skills Through STEM