• Substance Abuse and the Adolescent Brain: A series of presentations for parents

    A message from Superintendent James F. Scully:

    Great things are happening in the Haverhill Public School system.

    Five of our schools are now at state accountability Level 1, the highest distinction in the commonwealth’s ranking system. There are no schools at Levels 4 and 5, which signify a “failing” school in need of state intervention. Four years ago, we didn’t have any schools at level 1 or 2.

    Our sports teams and athletes continue to find great success on the fields.

    Our students are being accepted to some of the most prestigious colleges and universities in the country.

    While we relish these accomplishments, we also recognize the hard work and difficult challenges that we still face.

    One of the most significant of these is the opioid crisis and the challenges associated with it. To help families understand how this crisis sneaks into the very fabric of a family, the Haverhill Public Schools will be offering a series of workshops on “Substance Abuse and the Adolescent Brain.”  The first of these presentations will take place on January 27 at 6 p.m. at J.G. Whittier Middle School. A team comprised of educators and healthcare professionals will guide these presentations and discussions.

    Some things you may not know:

    • Every other year, in cooperation with the Northeast Health Resources, we survey our students anonymously at the high school level on issues related to suicide, illegal drug use and alcohol consumption. The results of this survey were publicly presented at a school committee meeting in October 2015.
    • The responses from the students in Haverhill indicate that the number of students who used or experimented with illegal drugs and alcohol exceeds the state average.
    • Our numbers have continued to increase significantly over the past two years.
    • On a positive note, cigarette usage among our students is down since 2013.

    I, like you, when I read these statistics was shocked. This is the reason for my letter and the impetus for these workshops “Substance Use & the Adolescent Brain.

    While we all relish the successes of our students, the challenges that youngsters face today are greater than ever. Peer pressure and the availability of drugs and prescription medications are in my words, out of control. Often we find out about the tragedies way too late.  Children in Haverhill and in communities across the Commonwealth are at a crossroad and frequently we are not there to provide the direction needed.

    As the Superintendent of Schools I strongly urge you, even though you feel that your child may not be at a crossroad, to become knowledgeable of the challenges that so many face.

    On the attached flyer you can see the dates of these events at various schools. We will be sending out reminders, but please take a moment to reflect on the information that I have sent you today.

    On behalf of everyone in the Haverhill Public Schools I want to wish you a very Happy New Year.

     

  • HHS students see presentation on Armenian Genocide

    Dr. Ara Ieknavorian talks about the Armenian Genocide of 1915-1917 during a presentation at Haverhill High School. The visit was organized by Tom Jordan of the History Department.(Photo courtesy of Rashaun Martin)

    Dr. Ara Ieknavorian talks about the Armenian Genocide of 1915-1917 during a presentation at Haverhill High School. The visit was organized by Tom Jordan of the History Department.(Photo courtesy of Rashaun Martin)

    Former Haverhill newsman Tom Vartabedian and Dr. Ara Ieknavorian spoke to Haverhill High School students on Wednesday to recall the 100th anniversary of the period known as the Armenian Genocide.

    Mr. Vartabedian and Dr. Ieknavorian put together information about the events leading up to the period of 1915 to 1917 in which as many as 1.5 million Armenians were killed in the buildup to the First World War.

    They speak to students and to members of civic organizations about the Armenian Genocice. The presentation at Haverhill High School coincided with the Armenian Day of Remembrance.

    “I salute Tom Vartabedian and Dr. Ara Ieknavorian and those associated with them for keeping the message and lessons of this tragic time in history alive in our minds and hearts,” said Superintendent James F. Scully, who viewed the presentation with the students.

    Superintendent Scully commended Tom Jordan and his associates in the History Department at Haverhill High School for bringing these and other informative speakers to the students at Haverhill High School.

  • Hunking School Building Committee meets Tuesday, April 14

    Hunking Building UpdateThe Hunking School Building Committee will meet Tuesday, April 14, at 8:30 a.m. in the Haverhill School Department conference room, at Haverhill City Hall.

    The short SBC meeting agenda includes an update on design documents, which were submitted to the Massachusetts School Building Authority, the agency that is reimbursing the city for roughly 70 percent of the cost of building the new Hunking School.

    Superintendent James F. Scully met last week with neighbors of the Hunking School to update them on the construction schedule. The site will undergo preparation for groundbreaking later this spring.

    The building committee’s meeting is open to the public. The School Department is located in Room 104 in City Hall, on the first floor. There is time for public comment during the meeting.

  • HPS, iSchool win national recognition

    Haverhill Public Schools has been named a District of Distinction by District Administration magazine. Haverhill is among 62 districts that were honored in the March 2015 round of Districts of Distinction, the magazine’s national recognition program for K12 school districts.

    “We are pleased to honor Haverhill as a District of Distinction,” said JD Solomon, editorial director at District Administration magazine. “Like all our honorees, Haverhill Public Schools serves as a model for school leaders across the country.”

    Superintendent James F. Scully is credited with bringing district-wide technology to Haverhill beginning in 2011. The magazine points out that the district’s iSchool, located in Haverhill High School, is the centerpiece of the technological innovations.

    To learn more, see District Administration magazine’s statement.

  • Schools to open 2 hours late on Tuesday, Feb. 10

    Superintendent James F. Scully has ordered a two-hour delay for school openings on Tuesday morning, February 10, 2015. There will be no morning kindergarten.

    Mr. Scully made the announcement shortly before 9:30 p.m. on Monday. The full text is as follows:

    “The adverse weather that we have been facing has caused problems for many, but the decisions that I have been making are for the children of Haverhill – with their safety being my primary consideration.

    “I would strongly urge you to discuss with your children the dangers of these huge snowbanks and  the fact that automobiles are having trouble negotiating some areas.

    “Thank you for your continued cooperation and again there will be a two-hour delay tomorrow and no morning kindergarten – again no morning kindergarten.

    “I have received various communications from state officials, and later this week I am hoping to communicate with you the actual impact these storms will have on our schedule.”

    Students have been out of school for seven snow days after more than 5 feet of snow has fallen on the area in the past 14 days.

  • District wins $500,000 tech grant for elementary school upgrades

    The Haverhill Public School Department will receive $500,000 from the state  to improve technology infrastructure and to buy six iPad carts, one for each elementary school.

    State Rep. Brian Dempsey of Haverhill, chairman of the House and Ways Committee, said the grant will “help modernize our entire school system and ensure that our students have access to the technology that is so critical to their education.”

    School Department Technology Director Tim DiFalco said the money will be used to upgrade the district’s elementary schools to offer wifi service and improve the delivery of data over upgraded cables. The bulk of the work will be performed this summer.

    The money is expected to arrive in fiscal year 2016, which begins July 1, 2015.

    “Representative Dempsey’s help in getting this funding for the children of Haverhill once again stimulates student interest and teachers’ faith in the government’s efforts to provide children with opportunities in the city of Haverhill,” said Superintendent James F. Scully. “This grant equalizes the playing field between our urban schools and our suburban neighbors.”

    According to the grant application, DiFalco plans to use the first $75,000 payment at the Tilton Elementary School. Built in 1890, Tilton School on Grove Street has virtually no wifi coverage and insufficient cabling.

    “The wifi initiative will positively compliment the district’s effort to improve the infrastructure of the building and its academic achievement,” DiFalco said in the grant application.

    By the time the project is finished, the grant will have paid for wireless access and other technology infrastructure improvements at Pentucket Lake Elementary School, Bradford Elementary School, Golden Hill Elementary School and Walnut Square School. The project at each school is expected to cost roughly $75,000 to complete, DiFalco said.

    A smaller expenditure of $25,000 is slated for the Greenleaf Elementary School, which serves kindergarten through second grade. The school is scheduled to close upon completion of the new Hunking School.

    The Haverhill school district was able to complete the second phase of a three-part wifi infrastructure project during Summer 2014, by installing cables, wireless access points, and switches in Consentino, Nettle and J.G. Whittier Middle Schools.

    The district was able to save more than $300,000 on the Middle School wifi project by purchasing all the cabling, wireless access points and switches, and having all installation performed by members of the Technology and Facilities departments, DiFalco said.

    A complete wifi infrastructure was installed at Haverhill High School in 2011, with both bond and grant funding. The cost was roughly $1 million.

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