Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

Education

December 13, 2012

AHS pitching mandatory event breath testing

School Committee to hear proposal tonight, Thursday

Andover High students could soon need to take an alcohol breath test to attend school events such as dances, graduation and the prom.

The high school’s School Council is calling for a test run of mandatory breathalyzer testing. Andover High School Principal Chris Lord is slated to present the proposal to the School Committee tonight, Thursday. The proposal would restrict attendance at the first school event in 2013 to those who agree to take a breathalyzer test prior to admission.

Lord declined to comment on the proposal until it is presented to the School Committee. Lyn Dwyer, co-president of the AHS Parent Advisory Committee, declined to comment on the proposal when reached by phone.

Brian Wivell, student liaison to the School Committee and a student member of the School Council, said the proposal reached consensus support from the council. The council is made up of Lord, three students, three parents, two teachers, another member of the high school faculty and a community member.

The proposal “will eliminate a certain population of the school from going to the dances,” Wivell said, “but it might also open up these dances to a different crowd of people that might have been intimidated or afraid to go.”

In a memo to the superintendent, Lord said the school “is strongly committed to providing an alcohol- and drug-free school environment for all students, faculty, and staff. This has been a challenge since in previous years, large numbers of alcohol abuse cases have occurred at dances.”

In the 2010-11 school year, students lost 93 days of school because of alcohol use, according to Lord. That number jumped to 127 for the 2011-12 school year, a 36 percent increase.

In the proposed plan, “all students attending the dance/school event will be given a breathalyzer test which requires the students to lightly blow in the direction of the device from a distance of 4-6 inches,” Lord wrote.

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