SOUTHINGTON, Conn. (WTNH) — Southington High School is the latest school to jump on the growing trend of schools that administer mandatory breathalyzer testing to all students before dances and major school events.
“I think it’s a good idea because it will make the place safer but at the same time it deters people from coming to dances,” said senior Emily Daley.
The mandatory testing is possible thanks to eight new breathalyzers purchased by the Southington Town-Wide Effort to Promote Success, also known as STEPS. Superintendent Timothy Connellan released the following statement to News 8:
“The discussion started last year during prom time in the spring, when our staff noticed there were other high schools using newer equipment for every student entering, and had absolutely no problems whatsoever. Southington High School’s equipment was older and not easy to use; there were only two or three of them. At any rate, we have a partnership with a coalition, STEPS, put together a few years back. Through them, we were able to obtain 8 of these, that we plan to use not only for prom, but other school dances.
A school dance (like a homecoming dance) was canceled for the 14th – more likely due to participation (or lack thereof) and not preparing to use this technology. The next dance, the first time they plan to use them, is unclear.***
The thing I want to point out is that this is nothing different than what many high schools have been or are currently doing. The effort is really one of prevention, being proactive, and it’s an attempt to help our students make good choices and be safe. What’s unique about our story is the partnership with STEPS that brought us this modern equipment. This is not an attempt to catch kids. If you know anything about the history of this school community and student deaths, and the cooperation between town agencies and the school district, that’s really what this is about. This is a continuation of an ongoing effort to keep kids safe and let parents know we’re on their side and willing to help them.”
Outside of the school on Friday afternoon students seemed to be in support of the decision.
“It didn’t really surprise me. I know that they’ve been talking about it for a while,” said senior Austin Abacherli.
“I actually think it’s gonna help us a lot because it’s gonna keep kids safer,” said senior Mike Defeo.
Current students say for the most part dances have been uneventful, with the exception of last year’s senior prom where many kids were drinking and out of control.
People who live in Southington hope the new policy will keep kids in check.
“I think it’s excellent. I think they need to be checked thoroughly because there’s too much drug abuse, there’s too much drinking,” said Vivian Sullivan, a resident.
“We need to keep the roads safer than they are. Every year there’s an accident, a kid dies,” said resident Lora Voigt.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that more than 4300 people under the age of 21 die each year from alcohol related factors.