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Ovation: Grace Karaffa Fights For Chapstick On Her Playground.

09/10/2014
Grace Karaffa Photo by Bob Stuart/The News Virginian

Grace Karaffa appears before the Augusta County (VA) Schoool Board on 09/04/14.
Photo by Bob Stuart/The News Virginian

I’m an addict.  I’ve always been an addict.  I’ve got a Chapstick monkey on my back.  I’ve been hooked on the waxy lip balm for as long as I can remember.  I’ve always carried Chapstick in my book bag.  In high school marching band, I kept a tube in my trombone case.  At home, there’s one tucked in a kitchen cabinet, another hidden in the bathroom and one on my nightstand in case I need a fix during the night.  At work, there’s one on my desk and a back-up in a drawer.  There’s a Chapstick in the glove box of my car.  At this very moment I’m looking at jar of Carmex and I can feel the tube of Burt’s Bees Beeswax Lip Balm in my shirt pocket.

I’m an addict.  I’m addicted to Chapstick.I can relate to fifth-grader Grace Karaffa who, when she felt her lips drying and cracking on the playground of Stuarts Draft Elementary School in Augusta County, Virginia, asked her teacher if she could have some Chapstick to soothe them.  Grace received a firm “no” along with an explanation of school policy that Chapstick has been deemed too dangerous for kids.  Apparently, the school district has determined that Chapstick is considered an over-the-counter medication and, hence, off-limits to students.

“I was told I couldn’t use it. Then later that day they [her lips] started to bleed so I asked for Chapstick again and I was told that it was against the school policy for elementary kids to have Chapstick.” – Grace Karaffa appearing before the August County (VA) School Board

Young Grace, a Chapstick addict in the making, wasn’t going to take no for an answer.  Grace is fighting for Chapstick on her playground.  She collected more than two hundred thirty signatures on a petition that she presented to the school board last Thursday night to ask for a policy change to allow students to use Chapstick.

“Chapstick allows the human body to heal the lips themselves and protects them in any weather from drying out.  Please school board, allow us to have Chapstick.” – Grace Karaffa appearing before the August County (VA) School Board

No chapstickThe school board noted that Chapstick could be allowed if a physician asked for a student to use it but only if it was applied by a school nurse.  One of the reasons for the policy, it was explained, is concerns about elementary students sharing medications.  Apparently, Grace’s request was “taken under advisement” and the school’s administrators will communicate with the girl’s parents.

It sounds to me like Grace’s lips will be bleeding on the playground this winter.  But good for her for putting into action some of the things she might have learned in social studies.  I believe she deserves an ovation.

If we add Grace Karaffa’s situation to last month’s suspension of a teenage student for saying “bless you” in school after a fellow student sneezed, the list of seemingly absurd zero-tolerance policies in public schools seems to be growing at a rapid pace.

My advice to Grace Karaffa, after decades of Chapstick addiction experience including dozens of cherry flavored tubes left in pants pockets as they go through hot cycles in the clothes dryer (avoid this at all costs!) would be to tuck a tube in your sock when you leave the house in the morning, shove one in the bottom of your book bag, another into that inside pocket of your coat and one in your pencil case.  You can sneak it on by covering your mouth as you pretend to yawn or sneeze.  It’s a skill that might take a little practice but will come in quite useful later in life.

Trust me … I know Chapstick.

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8 Comments
  1. You and my wife are twins. She also is a Chapstick addict. And, that school is run by people who are less in tune with what Chapstick is. Yes, it is over the counter (actually on the counter), but by the non-pharmaceutical cash register. Plus, anything sold in a convenience store does not require a Rx. Also, good advice to circumvent poor school policy.

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    • I suppose kids could spread a virus if they shared a Chapstick. Maybe this school district experienced an incident in the past. Or they’re trying to avoid one in the future. If it was my kid, she’d have a note from her doctor and she’d be wearing a path from her desk to the nurse’s office. I couldn’t let her suffer like I do when I go without.

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  2. Rick permalink

    Burt’s Bees Nourishing Lip Balm with Mango Butter……… THAT IS THE ONLY BRAND AND FLAVOR!!! I have it in every bag, drawer, room in the house. I get a little panic attack if I cannot find a tube. I also believe the plane will go down if I do not have a tube on my person….. Besides recirculated air = I MUST have chapstick.

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  3. Oh for goodness sakes….

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  4. I’m still reeling at your aside about the student who got suspended for saying ‘bless you’ in class when someone sneezed… WTF? Is that for real? I habitually say ‘bless you’, when someone sneezes, regardless of whether it’s a family member, a friend, or a complete stranger on the street or anywhere in public. It’s a reflex, and the polite thing to do. What a ridiculous school rule!

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