Haverhill, Methuen Students Return to Classrooms Today

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Ron Suskind speaks to teachers at Whittier Regional Technical High School at the start of the 2017-2018 school year.

Photo: Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School teachers listen to a talk by author Ron Suskind (foreground). Photo courtesy of Whittier Tech

Throughout the month of August, WHAV provides a daily report counting down to the first day of school in Greater Haverhill.

Haverhill and Methuen Public School students return to school today, as do freshmen and new students at Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School in Haverhill. WHAV urges motorists to drive especially carefully today as students return to bus stops and sidewalks.

As the week progresses, the region’s students make their way back to classrooms through Sept. 7.

At Haverhill High School, Principal Beth Kitsos today celebrated the return of the Hillie student body with a reminder that attendance and punctuality will continue to be an important focus this year. “It is absolutely essential that students are at school on time and that they are in attendance for their classes; excessive absences or tardiness will seriously undermine their learning, their ability to successfully pass the MCAS, and (to) graduate from high school,” Kitsos said.

Kitsos told students, “I hope and expect that you will invest a substantial amount of effort in your schoolwork. It is also expected that you will conduct yourself in a manner that will bring respect to you, your classmates, and to Haverhill High School. Take advantage of all the opportunities that are available to you, so that your high school experience is rewarding.”

Teachers at Whittier Tech geared up for the school year on Monday with a talk by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Ron Suskind. Known for his political coverage, Suskind recently wrote a book about how he and his wife, Cornelia, used Disney movies to communicate with their son, who was diagnosed with autism as a toddler.

Suskind’s sixth book, Life, Animated: A Story of Sidekicks, tells their family’s story.

Told Owen would be unable to learn or speak, Suskind and his wife recognized their son’s love of Disney and found a way to use the characters and dialogue to help him learn. In four years, he was able to speak.

“Use what they love,” Suskind told teachers. “Passion is the pathway in education. We make sense of the world through what we love. All educators can work through all of these portals. Trust me.”

Whittier serves students in Haverhill and 10 area communities. The school is located on Amesbury Line Road in Haverhill.

Seventh-graders at Pentucket Regional Middle School get to experience a practice day at school today before the real thing on Tuesday, Sept. 5.

Seventh-grade Orientation Day begins at 7:25 a.m. and ends at 2:15 p.m., and bus transportation will be available.

Students will learn the expectations of middle school, meet teachers and administrators, and learn their way around the building. An important part of the day will involve finding and learning how to use students’ lockers.

The West Newbury Fire Department will serve a barbecue lunch; students are allowed to bring a lunch from home if they prefer.

The day ends with an explanation of dismissal procedures.

Six new teachers will occupy classrooms when school starts today at Marsh Grammar School in Methuen. In the Lower School, they are speech and language teacher Lauren Giroux and special education teachers Julie Harrington and Mark Smolak. New Upper School teachers are Travis Thibeault, seventh-grade math; Gannon Paris, seventh-grade science; and Lauren Mucci, Learning Center.

Haverhill Public Schools open their doors to students in grades 1 through 12 on Tuesday, Aug. 29. Kindergarten begins Sept. 5. All Haverhill students will attend for a half-day on Friday, Sept. 1, and enjoy a day off for Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 4.

Regional first days are:

Pentucket: Sept. 5

Timberlane: Aug. 31

Methuen: Aug. 29

Whittier: Aug. 29 for freshmen and new students; Aug. 30 for all students

Sacred Hearts, Bradford: Wednesday, Aug. 30

Central Catholic High School: Sept. 7

Georgetown Public Schools: Grades 1-12, Aug. 29; kindergarten, Aug. 30

Bus routes for the Haverhill, Pentucket, Georgetown and Methuen school districts and Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School in Haverhill are available on their respective websites. Haverhill bus routes were updated on Friday, Aug. 25.

Do you have a submission for the Back-to-School Countdown? Email information to [email protected]. Tune in tomorrow for more back-to-school information.


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