ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
Middleton K-9 officer Rob Peachey and his dog, Kai sweep Classical High School.
By THOMAS GRILLO
LYNN — Police and a K-9 unit swept the city’s four high schools looking for drugs and weapons on Wednesday and came up empty.
“We found nothing,” said Oren Wright, the school’s security officer who was in charge of the exercise. “The dogs found no drugs or weapons and that’s a very good day.”
As police from Lynn, Manchester by the Sea, Middleton, Winthrop, Nashua, N.H., and the state entered the schools at around 10 a.m., the buildings were in lockdown. No one was allowed in or out while students and faculty were confined to their rooms.
That’s when Vorik, a four-year-old Belgian Malinois, and his owner, Officer Guido Marchionda from the Nashua Police Department, got to work at Classical High School. Students studying math in Room A103 were asked to drop what they were doing and gather in a nearby hallway. They did so silently as the dog sniffed more than two dozen backpacks. The task was repeated in other random classrooms, but the team failed to discover weapons or narcotics.
The hour-long task was repeated across town at English High School, Lynn Vocational Technical Institute and the Fecteau-Leary Junior/Senior High School.
While contraband was not found this time, it sends a message to students that drugs and weapons are unwelcome in the district’s schools, Wright said.
“We want the word to get out to anyone that might want to do harm or to a student who might be thinking about bringing drugs to class,” Wright said. “These lockdowns make everyone think twice since they are random.”
If drugs or weapons are found, the student faces immediate arrest, suspension and possible expulsion, he said.
Gene Constantino, Classical’s principal who accompanied Vorik and Marchionda on their rounds searching lockers and classrooms, said the annual event is a school safety check.
“For the last five years, we’ve used this approach to let kids know we don’t want drugs in school,” he said.
One year, he said, they found narcotics in a locker and the student was suspended. But such instances are rare, he said.
Jaye Warry, deputy superintendent of schools, said over the last few years, the search has turned up few drugs or weapons.
“By and large it’s been clean with a few exceptions,” she said. “Our goal is to assure the public that we’re watching over our schools and they’re as safe as they possibly can be. It’s our way to communicate to students that drugs are not tolerated.”
Thomas Grillo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.