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May 5, 2018
Area schools hold required forums to discourage drinking and drug use.
With area proms approaching, East and West Bridgewater schools are taking premptive measures to discourage underaged drinking.
On Monday night, officials at East Bridgewater Junior/Senior High School held a substance abuse awareness event that was mandatory for any junior or senior attending the prom, while also requiring at least one parent to attend as well.
Students were shown the documentary “If They Had Known,” a film created by Winchester residents Geoff and Genny Soper, whose 19-year-old son Clay Soper died in 2015 after mixing alcohol and prescription drugs.
“This was a powerful documentary about the dangers of mixing prescription drugs and alcohol,” said East Bridgewater police Chief Scott Allen in a press release. “Some of the parents in the audience were wiping away tears. Making this mandatory for students attending prom is an important reminder that they can have fun on their special night, but must also be safe and responsible in doing so.”
“They spoke compellingly about the loss of their son as a result of mixing alcohol and medication,” said Principal Brian Duffey.
A second viewing of the documentary will be held on May 21 prior to the senior prom.
District Attorney Timothy Cruz also spoke to students and parents about the importance of understanding social host law, which states that supplying, giving or providing anyone under 21 years old with alcohol or allowing anyone under 21 years to consume alcohol is punishable by a fine of up to $2,000 and/or up to a year of imprisonment.
“We had a good turnout and everyone in attendance was certainly impacted by the gravity of the Soper’s story,” Duffey said. “We as a school community are committed to providing resources to our students that set them up for success, both in and out of the classroom.”
At West Bridgewater Middle-Senior High School, police Lt. Tim Nixon gave a safety speech to students last week about making smart decisions and the legality of drinking.
“We have Lt. Nixon who goes over and does a speech on safety — he already did that last week — on what to do what not to do, dating stuff, it’s a whole gamut,” said West Bridgewater Police Chief Victor Flaherty. “He’s very blunt and to the point, and the kids like that,” he said. “He really basically says, ‘This is what’s acceptable. This is what’s not. This is where you can get into trouble legally. This is where you cannot.’ So we just tell the kids what’s appropriate (and) what’s not. What’s criminal (and) what’s not. And so, we’ve already done that. We hope that they listen.”
Though both high schools, in conjunction with both police departments, took preventative steps to discourage drinking and drug use during and following prom, the East and West Bridgewater police departments have no plans of taking post-prom measures through additional or targeted patrols.
“We’re not doing any sort of special patrolling for or after proms,” said Flaherty.
Drinking during or after prom hasn’t been an apparent issue in the past six years, according to Flaherty.
“The kids today are a little better than the kids in the past, not only with the drinking end of it, but now we have Uber and lot of those things — and even young adults,” he said. “I don’t want to say they’re more responsible, but they seem to think a little bit. If they’re going to go out they’re going to get a ride.
“I think that starts from conversations with them,” Flaherty added. “We want to say don’t do it, but if you do it’s best to be as responsible as you can.”