Fighting youth tobacco use, mentoring students, and being a good role model are all part of the job description for Stephanie Lupien, St. Helena’s new school resource officer.
“Today was day four with the students and I feel that it’s going very well,” Lupien told the school board last Thursday.
Lupien is an officer with the St. Helena Police Department who will now serve at the schools from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. A $393,000 grant from the Proposition 56 Tobacco Law Enforcement Grant Program will pay for the position through June 2021.
Reducing youth tobacco use – including vaping – will be one of Lupien’s primary missions, but she’ll also be a regular presence on campus, improve relations between youth and law enforcement, sit in on parent meetings when necessary, coordinate with community organizations like the Upvalley Partnership for Youth, and act as a mentor for students.
“The ultimate goal is to keep kids in school,” Interim Police Chief Tim Foley told the school board. “We’ll work side by side with the school district to that end.”
Lupien will go to all four schools, but she will spend most of her time at the middle school and high school, where she’s already mentoring two students who need help getting their grades up.
Lupien, who’s been with the St. Helena Police Department for a year and half, said she was already interested in working with youth before the school resource officer job opened up. During her day shifts she would work out with students during P.E. and give them “good mornings and high fives,” she said.
“The younger generation are going to be the ones who make the most difference,” Lupien said. “If I can be a good role model for them, I can get that ‘feel-good’ feeling I want out of my job.”
Her interest in schools and youth also led her to participate in an active shooter drill in January in Calistoga.
“That really solidified that I want to work with kids – I want to protect them,” Lupien said.
The police department plans to hire a regular officer to fill Lupien’s former position.