Haverhill Alternative School Graduates Four, Promotes Three After Year of ‘Challenges’

Graduating seniors listen to Mayor James J. Fiorentini. At rear are Maury Covino and Principal John V. DePolo. (WHAV News photograph.)

Four graduating high school seniors and three promoted eighth graders won accolades last week from Mayor James J. Fiorentini, Principal John V. DePolo and other teachers and staff of the Haverhill Alternative School.

Opening the 18th annual ceremony at Winnekenni Castle, DePolo pointed out students passed standardized tests despite some with “serious academic challenges” and “serious losses in their lives,” concluding: “There isn’t any student here tonight that hasn’t had to face some extremely difficult personal challenges.”

DePolo also hinted at challenges staff faced over a protocol change that saw DePolo and other staff placed on paid leave after restraining students who posed threats to themselves or others.

“This year we have had to face some extremely unusual and difficult challenges as a team. For a significant period of time, a major part of our team was unable to be present for our students,” DePolo said.

The principal singled out Jessica Wright for her leadership. She was named “2019 Educator of the Year.”

In his remarks, Fiorentini also took time to praise DePolo and his staff. “No matter where you kids go to school in the future, they will never have a more dedicated staff than they had with alternative school here in Haverhill.”

Another greeting came from Richard Lawson, the founding principal of the school that DePolo called his mentor.

Graduating seniors were Jorge Chute, interested in the fashion industry; Mikai Everett, looking at a military or security career; Manuel Eusebio, interested in the federal Job Corps and culinary arts; and Jowan Singleton, planning to join the Carpenter’s Union to work with his father. Eighth grades moving on to the high school were Dylan Knoblaugh, Devin Pelletier and Edison Penalo.

Parents of the Year were Angela Rivera and Bethany Pond, while community partners receiving recognition were Pat’s Peak, North Andover Youth Services and Ironstone farm.

Other recognition awards included:

Academics: Alexus Willette, Jackson Helemeke, Devin Pelletier and Jesus P.O.

Attendance: Julio Centron, Kylen Grace, Dylan Knoblaugh and Tia Vasquez-Castro.

Good Citizenship: Jesus Pacheco Ortiz.

Sportsmanship: Tayvon Horton.

Project Adventure: Tia Vasquez-Castro.

Equestrian: Dylan Knoblaugh.

Creative Arts: Natalie Carroll.

Peer Leaders: Tyler Banks, Jackson Helmeke, Jesus Pacheco-Ortiz and Alexus Willette.

Katie Duggan gave the Irish blessing, while music was played by Maury Covino.

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