New committee prioritizes school safety


Assistant Principal Michael Pratt and Officer Dan Contois

Student safety in schools continues to be a pressing topic in the United States.  According to Assistant Principal Michael Pratt, greater school safety has become something the administration worked towards for years.

“All our staff are ALICE trained and many are CPR and AED certified as well,” Pratt said. “We use a newly revised emergency operations plan that all teachers know about to prepare them for the worst-case scenario.”

Pratt leads the high school’s safety committee, a team including teachers, administrators, school resource officer Dan Contois, and nurses Louisa Corazzini and Luong Duong.

“If something outside of Wachusett does happen, our safety committee all have a ‘check-in’ to evaluate the event and see if there is anything we can do to change the emergency plan we have in place already,” said Pratt.

Freshman Ali Jones said she sees the benefit of the safety committee.

“I feel moderately safe,” Jones said. “I mean, there are fights of course. But the school does a pretty good job of keeping us all safe.”

Junior Rylie Schoville agreed.

“Yeah, I feel very safe here, especially with someone like Officer Dan here,” Schoville said. “He definitely gets right on the fights and tries to help the situation as best as he can.”

Contois said he works with administrators and the Holden Police Department to make the school as secure as it can be. 

“I’m here to keep kids safe,” Contois said. “The most important thing that I have to do is make sure students feel safe enough to be able to learn. They shouldn’t have to worry about anything else other than their learning.”

Officer Contois has been a police officer for almost ten years and previously served in the Marine Corps for five years.

“I’ve been at Wachusett for almost three years, and I’m here all day, every day,” said Contois. “I have to complete lots of extra training to work in a school and now hold instructor-level certifications.”

Junior Thomas Brochu said he has observed how Officer Contois interacts with students.

“We all love Officer Dan,” Brochu said. “He talks with students a lot, something we hadn’t really seen before. He’s also just a good and safe presence to have around.”

Nurse Linda Corazzini and nurse Luong Duong both agreed that the school has worked hard in recent years to advocate for student safety.

“The building and district have made a big push of change regarding the safety and security of students and staff,” Duong said. 

The two nurses have held tourniquet training and CPR/AED training with hopes to hold more in the future.

“We need to make the students more aware of things,” Corazzini said. “Many times they [students] take this community for granted. Safety comes first for all of our students and staff.”

With the multiple mass shootings occurring around the country in the past few years caught Schoville’s attention.

“With everything that is happening in our country, I hope administrators are trying to better prepare students for any threat that might happen while we are in school,” Schoville said.

Sophomore Emily Hazen agreed.

“I think there could be more policies in place,” Hazen said. “It seems like people can just walk around without consequences.”

With nationwide incentives for safer schools, the Regional has followed in the federal footprints. 

“Administration believes that over the past three to four years, our system has increased in a positive direction,” Pratt said. “We hope to continue to make Wachusett safer as the years continue. But we’re in a really good place now.”