Haverhill Schools Launch ‘Attendance Matters’ Campaign, PSAs With Local Celebrities

File photograph. (Image licensed by Ingram Image.)

MLB slugger Carlos Pena and state Rep. Andy Vargas are among the Haverhill celebrities lending their support to a series of new PSAs for the Haverhill Public Schools’ “Attendance Matters” campaign, set to be debuted at Thursday’s School Committee meeting. (File photograph)

Going to school is cool—just ask Haverhill celebrities like Carlos Pena. The city-bred MLB slugger is the latest local son to lend his support to the Haverhill Public Schools’ new “Attendance Matters” Campaign, launched in time to mark September’s Attendance Awareness Month.

At Thursday’s School Committee meeting, Superintendent Margaret Marotta and Supervisor of Attendance Lorna Marchant plant to formally debut the effort, a district-wide initiative that hopes to address chronic absenteeism at all grade levels.

Learning can suffer, Marchant told WHAV, when students miss just two classroom days per month, which equates to 10 percent of the overall 180-day school year.

To that end, Marchant and Marotta rallied Haverhill role models including police officers, judges and teachers to prove that it’s a team effort to get students to the head of the class.

“We’re making a concerted effort to work with the community to make everyone understand that it’s not just a teacher’s job: It’s everyone’s job to come together for the betterment of our community,” Marchant said.

Students from three classes at Tilton Elementary School will appear in the segment as a reward for having the most well attended classrooms, Marchant said. Additional segments, including the one featuring Pena, will debut later this month.

With scenarios like homelessness, language barriers and mental health concerns considered barriers to school attendance, Haverhill’s new initiative attempts to meet every student and family where they’re at—regardless of grade level.

Once September’s Attendance Awareness month concludes, Superintendent Marotta told WHAV the district plans to monitor truancy on a month-to-month and year-over-year basis to assess trends.

97.9 WHAV FM plans to broadcast Thursday’s School Committee meeting live starting at 7 p.m. from Theodore A. Pelosi Jr. City Council Chambers of City Hall. Other items on the agenda include remarks from Police Chief Alan R. DeNaro on school safety and a discussion of solar canopies at Haverhill High School at the request of Mayor James J. Fiorentini.

HPS Attendance Awareness PSA from Haverhill Public Schools on Vimeo.