Antkowiak Touts ‘Exciting’ Tilton Upper School Plan Ahead of Haverhill Redistricting

Tilton Elementary School (Jay Saulnier file photograph for WHAV News.)

On the heels of Superintendent Margaret Marotta’s decision to convert St. James School into “Tilton Upper” next fall, current Tilton Elementary School Principal Bonnie Antkowiak tells WHAV she can’t wait to welcome 200 more Tigers to the school community.

As part of Haverhill’s plan to reduce class sizes, Marotta said Monday that the current school is going to be recast as a kindergarten to grade 3 elementary school. The current St. James School will welcome between 150 and 200 students in grades 4-6 and be known as “Tilton Upper.”

Both schools will be overseen by Principal Antkowiak, who looks forward to fostering the sense of community at the new Tilton School. “For these students, we already know what their needs are and we’ve found ways to reach them the best we can, we can take this model we have from the Tilton lower school and apply it to the Tilton Upper School, so that’s exciting,” she told WHAV Tuesday.

Putting families’ worries to rest, the top Tilton tiger tells WHAV the reorganization is nothing to worry about. “It’s going to be the same expectations, just in a different building, so I think that’s great for students,” she said.

Named principal by former Superintendent James F. Scully 2015, Antkowiak has been credited with the “turnaround” of Tilton School, largely marked by a 20-point increase in its MCAS scores over the last three years—a boost from a 1 percentile rank to the percentile rank of 21.

Haverhill School Committee approved what was called a “rightsizing” plan April 11. The aim was to reduce classroom sizes in some schools by using vacant space in others. It calls for Haverhill Alternative School to move to Greenleaf School, while the Therapeutic Education Assessment Center of Haverhill moves to Bartlett School next fall.

Students and families who will be attending either Tilton School in the fall are welcome to attend the “Tilton Tigermania” field and activity day on May 18 from noon-3 p.m., to learn more about the proposed changes, Antkowiak said. The event takes place at 70 Grove St.

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