NORTHBOROUGH – A cold call from Algonquin Regional High School’s Student Council president recently helped secure 800 donated rapid COVID-19 tests for the school.
According to ARHS Principal Sean Bevan, the Student Council president and ARHS junior Ben Schanzer independently called and emailed Abbott Laboratories, which creates rapid tests, in November asking if they would be willing to make a donation.
“It was very impressive that he did that on his own,” Bevan said during a Regional School Committee meeting last month.
Schanzer told the Community Advocate last week that the Student Council had been discussing how it could safely hold its annual Winter Ball, which hasn’t been held since 2019.
The Student Council surveyed students and found that there wouldn’t be enough attendees to turn a profit or break even if masks were required. So, the council worked with the district’s medical advisory team to determine the level of restrictions needed in order to allow students to not wear masks. Those restrictions, they decided, included being vaccinated and taking a test within 72 hours of the dance.
As a last ditch effort, Schanzer said he googled the email for Abbott CEO Robert Ford.
He got in touch with Ford, explained the situation and made his request. Within days, Ford’s assistant responded and asked for a shipping address.
“I was very surprised,” Schanzer said. “I didn’t think it would happen.”
The 800 tests, which are valued at about $8 a piece, are worth about $6,400.
The ball has since been cancelled. The tests, therefore, haven’t been used and remain in the high school.
Abbot, however, has given permission to have the tests be used for junior and/or senior proms in the spring.
Though they won’t see use for their initial Winter Ball purpose, these tests are giving leaders at Algonquin reason for optimism.
“We’re extremely appreciative to Abbott for doing this,” Schanzer said. “Without the thought of rapid immediate testing [with] a high degree of accuracy, even considering this would have been impossible.”