Select Spots Remain for Haverhill YMCA’s Summer Camp Readers Program

If you ask Pentucket Lake Principal and early literacy advocate Dianne Connolly, the only slide Haverhill students are going down this summer is one at the playground! Now in its sixth year, the Haverhill YMCA’s Summer Camp Readers Program is getting ready to welcome 60 students for a six-week enrichment program overseen by Haverhill Public Schools elementary teachers. As Connolly and YMCA Regional Executive Director Tracy Fuller tell WHAV, the program is offered at no cost to parents of selected students in second through fourth grade who would benefit from a non-traditional learning environment. “The results of our program are pretty astounding. Kids are able to make significant gains in a six-week program and go back to school really ready to learn,” Fuller tells WHAV.

Silver Hill Third Graders Beg Fiorentini: ‘Fund the Library’

When it comes to the Haverhill Public Library this budget season, it’s all about dollars and cents, but if you ask third grade readers from Silver Hill Elementary School, there’s a pretty famous wizard from Hogwarts who matters just as much, too. Putting their recently learned public speaking and persuasive letter writing skills to use, several third graders with a love for literacy received a few extra credit points for speaking up to Mayor James J. Fiorentini and City Councilors Tuesday night in a bid to close the public library’s $195,000 funding gap. Teacher Kerri Alves introduced her students, sharing how an October visit from librarians and the Library van really struck a chord with the youngsters, who joined nearly 200 of their peers to check out books using their very own library cards. Sebastian and Annie were two such students. “I believe it is very crucial for the Library to stay funded so that children we be able to check out books…also, I’ve always had a love for building LEGOs, so I think you should keep the funds the way it was months ago so the LEGO program can still happen,” the boy said.

Haverhill Promise’s Toulouse Receives $20K Grant to Support Citywide Children’s Vision Care Efforts

Haverhill Public Schools staffer and Northeast Regional School Nurse consultant Shanyn Toulouse is poised to bring expanded eye care to the city through participation in a new program backed by the National Center for Children’s Vision and Eye Health, she tells WHAV. Called “Better Vision Together,” the program Toulouse is taking part in is a team-based effort where eight groups across the country collaborate to brainstorm ideas and develop action plans to improve children’s vision programs in at-risk and minority populations. Haverhill was selected in addition to teams based in California, Idaho, Texas, Arizona, Florida, and Minnesota. The city was awarded a $20,000 grant, she said. Toulouse is using her platform to bring attention to the collaboration between Haverhill Promise and Haverhill Public Schools, which work together to get all children reading at or above grade level by the end of third grade. As Toulouse explains, vision screenings and school readiness go hand-in-hand.

Free All-Day Kindergarten Included in Next Year’s School Budget, Says Marotta

Should this spring’s School Committee budget sessions go as Superintendent Margaret Marotta expects, all-day kindergarten will be free for all Haverhill families starting with the 2019-2020 school year. Briefing the School Committee on her intentions Thursday night, Marotta said the proposal is included in the budget up for discussion in the coming months. The policy revision would make early education for the city’s children who are at least five-years-old complimentary instead of tuition-based. Currently, families who opt to send children to all-day sessions pay on a sliding fee scale. Marotta is hopeful the program will broaden opportunities for city children and families.

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Barrett Implores City to Aid ‘Chronically Underfunded’ Haverhill Public Library

Ahead of this spring’s budget sessions, Haverhill City Councilor Melinda E. Barrett did her due diligence Tuesday night to petition for increased funding for what she calls the “chronically underfunded” Haverhill Public Library. Over the last year, Barrett said 51,000 cardholders found the location a “highly used and valued” resource—a resource that risks losing certification if the city doesn’t fill a much-needed $195,000 gap. The Library’s Board of Trustees and the City of Haverhill partner jointly to oversee the Library and over the last 11 years, Barrett said the Trustees increased their budget 41 percent, while the city boosted their contribution 0.2 percent. “The city has to have a plan for closing the funding gap and maintaining appropriate funding going forward,” Barrett said. “I don’t know if we have that plan, but I hope we can work together with the Mayor to make that plan happen.”

Haverhill has failed to meet requirements for certification 14 times in last 16 years but received waivers, Barrett said.

Haverhill Student Nutrition Focus of New $18K Healthy Breakfast Program

Eight city schools are set to share in an $18,750 grant from Project Bread and other healthy eating advocacy groups for Haverhill to implement a program called “Breakfast After the Bell,” Mayor James J. Fiorentini and state Rep. Andy Vargas tell WHAV. The grant comes four months after Vargas co-sponsored legislation that advocated for a nutritious breakfast for city children so that attendance and test scores may improve. Vargas continues to prioritize nutrition through Haverhill Promise, the city’s effort to get all students reading at grade level by the end of third grade. “There’s a direct correlation between nutrition and academic success. Students can’t learn if they’re not fed.

Four Tilton First Graders Win Northern Essex Peace-Themed Poetry Contest

Paws up for peace at Haverhill’s Tilton School! Four first grade students at the city elementary school have been chosen as winners in the 11th annual Northern Essex Community College peace-themed poetry contest, Principal Bonnie Antkowiak tells WHAV. As part of classroom instruction by teacher Beth Perry, students learned about the different elements of a poem over the last several months. In addition to contributing different pieces to a weekly poetry book, students all submitted entries to the poetry contest sponsored by Northern Essex, Perry said. “This contest was a great way for them to show what they know as young poets beyond their own classroom doors,” Perry told WHAV.