Girard at Large has obtained a copy of the presentation given by members of the Manchester Fire Department to the city’s high school students. In transmitting the material, Fire Chief James Burkush said the presentation was approved by School Superintendent Debra Livingston.
The presentation has come under attack by parents upset about the district’s failure to provide advance notice of the presentation so they could decide to opt their children out of the presentation. Some believe the presentation is wrongheaded, asserting there are better ways to warn students of the dangers of heroin use than attempting to scare them with graphic images of heroin users.
Show host Rich Girard shared the burgeoning controversy in an on air monologue and called on the district to involve parents in the effort to educate children about the dangers of this epidemic. He went so far as to suggest the presentation be given to the public at large and said that parents should be invited into the schools alongside their children to witness the presentations.
In an interview yesterday on the Girard at Large Radion Show, Manchester Public Health Officer Tim Soucy defended the presentation, drafts of which he reviewed, saying it was necessary to impress upon students that even using heroin once could be fatal and would be life altering if not fatal. He also raised questions over the proposal made by Governor Margaret Wood Hassan to provide narcan kits to known heroin addicts.
Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas also defended the presentation in his weekly interview on the Girard at Large Radio Show yesterday, emphatically noting that despite all that’s been done to raise awareness and get dealers off the street, the number of overdoses and related deaths reached an all time high in September. He also said he didn’t know why parents weren’t notified in advanced and that they should be informed of what’s going on. He wondered why the district’s embattled Communications Coordinator hadn’t done something to publicize the pending presentation.
The district has arranged a parents only presentation on October 15 at Hillside Middle School to unveil the presentation that will be given to middle school students in the district. However, other than an announcement by Livingston at the September 28 meeting of the Manchester Board of School Committee, the district has not made any public announcements regarding the pending presentation, nor have they posted it to either of the “announcement” or public calendar sections of their Web site. Girard at Large is, at this time, unaware of any information sent to parents advising them of the event so that they may attend. No such meeting was scheduled with high school parents prior to their children being called to assemblies to see it.
The presentation given to Manchester’s high school students on heroin can be viewed here.