‘Encounter The Real’ New Local Art Exhibit at Northern Essex Community College in Lawrence

Seven local artists have created a new black-and-white photography exhibit titled “Encounter the Real—Emotive Reflections at Northern Essex Community College’s Lawrence campus. The exhibit focuses on the conveyance of emotions and spirituality through the artists differing perspectives, influenced by their identities as women, non-binary people, LGBTQ and people of color. Two of the artists Kat Almonte and Mahli Rivera, owners of Grainy Daze Studios in Lawrence, organized the exhibit with a grant from the Lawrence Cultural Council. Almonte said the exhibit came about because the artists “wanted an opportunity for marginalized people to be able to have a space and opportunity to gain skills and work on their passions.”

The exhibit will be on display in the Louise Haffner Fournier Education Center on Northern Essex Community College’s Lawrence Campus at 78 Amesbury St., starting Saturday, June 15, from 4-8 p.m. It will then run from Sunday, June 16, to Saturday, June 29, between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., and the closing reception will be Sunday, June 30, 4-6 p.m. For more information visit GrainyDazeStudios.com.

Podcast: Spurr Relates Story Behind Finally Donning Graduation Cap and Gown After 65-Year Wait

(Additional photographs below.)

School graduation season offers a time for reflection, planning and often some heartwarming stories, but it was considerably more for 82-year-old Jean Spurr of Groveland. Spurr was awarded an honorary diploma June 1 from Georgetown High School where she was a member of the class of 1959 at graduation ceremonies on Saturday morning. She recently told WHAV listeners the unusual and heartfelt experience of how she came to finally don cap and gown and participate in high school graduation. Spurr and her companion, Steven D. Sardella of Haverhill, were guests on WHAV’s “Win for Breakfast” program. Earlier this year, Sardella had an idea about a special birthday gift for Spurr.

Kindergarten Kickoff June 25 at Haverhill Public Library

Families preparing for their children’s transition into kindergarten over the summer will be getting some help during a Kindergarten Kickoff later this month. In preparation for Haverhill students entering kindergarten this fall, the kickoff features activities, a free bag of supplies and be able to help families connect with community resources and a chance to talk with principals, teachers and staff ready to welcome new students. The event is organized by Haverhill Promise, the city’s community-wide initiative focused on increasing grade-level reading by the third grade; Haverhill Public Library; and Haverhill Public Schools. Haverhill. Mayor Melinda E. Barrett, School Committee members and other local leaders will be on hand.

State Awards Haverhill Schools $141,535 to Implement ‘Appleseeds’ Early Literacy Program

Haverhill Public Schools is one of only 18 school districts and collaboratives statewide to share in $1.2 million in grants to implement “Appleseeds,” a package of materials for teaching foundational reading skills in kindergarten through second grade. While Appleseeds is free to state school systems, Haverhill was awarded $141,535 by the Healey-Driscoll Administration to pay for professional printing of the materials and professional development for educators. “This Appleseeds grant is an important part of our administration’s commitment to improving early literacy instruction,” said Gov. Maura T. Healey. “We also recently proposed Literacy Launch in our latest budget, a historic investment in early literacy from age 3 to grade 3, on top of additional funding for continued literacy programming from DESE.”

The state said districts may use Appleseeds to supplement existing early literacy curriculum that does not have a strong foundational skill component. “Learning to read is a fundamental skill critical to every aspect of students’ education, but more importantly throughout their life,” said Education Secretary Patrick A. Tutwiler. “I have heard strong interest from many districts and educators in improving early literacy instruction.

Mass. Wildlife Officials Visit Three Falcon Chicks Hatched at UMass Lowell Nest Box

Three peregrine falcon chicks hatched in a nest box atop UMass Lowell’s Fox Hall last month are healthy and thriving, according to wildlife officials. Last week they visited campus to check on the birds and fit them with ID bands that enroll them in state and federal preservation programs.

An adult female falcon new to the neighborhood and never-before-seen by Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife officials hatched the chicks the first week of May. The female and her mate, along with the chicks—two males and one female—live in the nest box maintained by the university as part of its effort to grow the peregrine population. The birds are monitored via webcams that allow the public to see them in their urban habitat high above the Merrimack River. Area schoolteachers often use the birds’ story to help educate children about wildlife.

Haverhill School Committee Adopts Diversity Policy, Reflecting Changing Populations

Haverhill School Committee members formally passed a diversity policy in late May, reflecting the increased diversity of the student population and the Committee itself. Member Yonnie Collins said, “Research shows that, when students feel engaged in their community at large, and they feel like they’re part of the whole, and not just a floating piece of a puzzle, that they actually thrive in the classroom settings, there’s less violence, there’s more engagement and more productivity.”

With roughly half the student body of “minoritized communities,” she said the School Committee needs to work to make everyone feel welcome. In the past six years, state data shows the proportion of English-language learners in the district grew from 9.5% to 13%. Haverhill adopted a policy written by the state association of school committees in 2019. Vice Chair Paul A. Magliocchetti said, “As we proceed and we dig deeper into DEI, we’ll make amendments to the policy.”

The city’s adoption on May 23 comes five years later because, he explained, previous Committee “leadership” was not as dedicated to diversity, equity and inclusion—or DEI.

With No College Required, Doula Training Offers Hillies Engaging, Meaningful Job Option

“A doula is a soon-to-be mother’s best friend,” said Adalis Gil, sophomore at Haverhill High School who completed a workshop about the profession. Of the 11 students in the class this year, all five Haverhill High sophomores, part of the Career Technical Education Healthcare Occupations class, hope to become certified birthing doulas with Birthing Gently, the agency that facilitated the training, according to Healthcare Occupations Teacher Kristen Hentschel. The other six, all seniors, will use what they learned in their planned careers in healthcare-related fields. Unlike physicians or nurses, doulas do not perform medical tasks, instead advocating for expectant mothers and providing emotional support before, during and after birth. And, they do not need to attend college, which, Hentschel pointed out, has become outrageously expensive and competitive.

MakeIT Haverhill Offers Free 8-Week Computer Basics Courses; Register June 11

MakeIT Haverhill, in partnership with UMass Lowell and the Massachusetts Broadband Institute, is offering two free Computer Basics courses over eight weeks beginning in July. Classes are available in both English and Spanish languages and take place Tuesdays, from July 2 to Aug. 20, from 4-6 p.m., at MakeIT Haverhill, 301 Washington St., Haverhill. There are only 15 seats for each course and registration is required. Those interested my signup Tuesday, June 11, from 4-5:30 p.m., at MakeIT Haverhill.