Breathalyzer Tests on Tap at Haverhill High School Senior Events this Year

“The Thinker” at Haverhill High School passes the test. (WHAV News graphic.)

Safeguards at two upcoming Haverhill High School senior events involve the use of a breathalyzer.

Essex County District Attorney Paul F. Tucker. (WHAV News file photograph.)

The safety measure is being made available as the result of an Essex County Safe Prom and Graduation Grant provided by Essex County District Attorney Paul F. Tucker. The district attorney made $25,000 in grant money available to local schools in an effort to support alcohol and substance-free post-prom and post-graduation events. Haverhill received $2,500 after Grade 12 Assistant Principal Nelly Garcia-Santana submitted a grant application aimed at this year’s Senior Prom and Senior Farewell events. She explained how the proposal came about.

“Previous to being here in Haverhill, I worked in an urban district in New Jersey for 26 years, and they had already had breathalyzers there and when the district attorney proposed a grant to have a substance-free, alcohol-free event, I said, ‘Wow, this would be a perfect opportunity to start proposing the use of breathalyzers in dances,’” she told the School Committee last Thursday.

High School Principal Kevin Soraghan added, based on the success of the program at these events, he would like to see it used at all such events moving forward. He told members of the School Committee it is his experience that parents were very supportive of the efforts to keep their children safe.

School Committee member Scott W. Wood Jr., himself a graduate of Haverhill High, said he is in favor of the idea and reminisced about programs put on by the school in the past in an attempt to dissuade drinking by students.

“Many years ago, we had Cedardale. The administration would urge the kids to come over there. We had magicians and games, but times have changed now. So, I think you have to adapt to it and I think that this is a program that has the potential of saving lives,” he said.

Committee member Richard J. Rosa also expressed his support for the program, reading from a National Youth Risk Survey published in 2019.

“It says during the last 30 days, 29% drank alcohol, 14% binge drank, 5% drove after drinking and 17% rode with a driver that had been drinking,” he cited.

The Committee agreed unanimously to move ahead with the project this year and asked Garcia-Santana to report back with the result after the events.

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