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Local Phenomenon: Smoke Cloud of Death

    Imagine standing behind a running car with a broken muffler.  Now imagine standing in that small wooded grove between the school building and Our Lady of Peace parking lot.  What’s the similarity?  In both cases, you would be inhaling thick clouds of noxious smoke instead of air.

    For those of you who are not acquainted with this local phenomenon, allow me to explain.  Every school morning, starting around 7:45, a thick cloud of smoke mysteriously descends onto the wooded grove and the narrow path that leads from the parking lot to the school.  From far away, the cloud may be mistaken for a solid object due to the density of smoke fumes within; in fact, several local reports of evanescent UFOs may be traced to this source.  Those of us who are trekking to school have no choice but to follow the asphalt path, and it is then, inside the haze, that an appalling discovery is made: the toxic cloud, in fact, is no mystical natural occurrence but is generated by about a dozen local teenagers puffing at cheap cigarettes.  Perhaps these misguided souls think that by converting several cubic meters of air into venomous chemical fumes on a daily basis, they are contributing to the environment; or perhaps the act of circulating tar and nicotine through their lungs is a form of religious self-atonement.  Whatever the reasons may be, those unfortunate few who are forced to pass through the Smoke Cloud fall victim to the lethal dangers of second-hand smoke.  Not only do we waste innumerable hours at school, but we have to sacrifice longevity of our lives on the way to school, as well?

   And what is the administration doing about all this, you might wonder?  After all, if they swoop down at the slightest sign of a PDA offence (public display of affection, e.g. kissing in the hallways) or assign detentions for vulgar expletive usage in the classroom, you would certainly expect them to take some action when the lives and well-beings of students are being endangered daily.  And yet the caring faculty of NPHS chooses to look the other way.  Six years have passed since I had discovered the Smoke Cloud phenomenon, and no action has been taken.  Either the administrative officials are teaching us an extended lesson in hypocrisy, or they are firm believers into vapor-like UFOs.

   If only the smoking teens could be exorcised, their wooded grove would prove to be an incredible archaeological site.  Anyone who has passed there must have noticed the thick carpet of cigarette butts covering what used to be a grassy knoll.  The layering and alignment of these butts is probably a more accurate measure of the history of smoking than all the tobacco companies’ annals put together.  And who knows?  Perhaps careful excavation may reveal the bones and personal belongings of our own students, ritualistically sacrificed and buried under the Smoke Cloud’s cover.