EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

October 25, 2012

Bergeron to inspire hometown teens?

School wants him, other successful grads to motivate students

By Shawn Regan sregan@eagletribune.com
The Eagle-Tribune

---- — HAVERHILL — He graduated from Haverhill High School in the 1970s and started his career as a disc jockey with a local radio station.

Today, Tom Bergeron is one of the most recognized people on TV. He hosts the popular show “Dancing with the Stars’’ and has won two Emmy awards.

Local school leaders hope to enlist his help to promote the high school and highlight the importance of education — to show students that if they work hard, they can achieve success.

“Everyone who graduates is important, but we want to highlight how high you can rise if you work and apply yourself,” School Committee member Joseph Bevilacqua said. “What better way to do that than with Tom Bergeron, who graduated from Haverhill High School and then went on to reach the top of his profession?”

Tonight, the School Committee will consider a proposal to hold an annual Graduate Recognition Day at Haverhill High. Bevilacqua, who came up with the idea, said he hopes Bergeron will accept an invitation to visit the high school and speak to students about the role his Hillie education played in his success.

Bergeron, 57, was born in Haverhill and attended Haverhill High and Northern Essex Community College before going on to become one of the nation’s most popular and recognizable TV personalities. He has won both a Daytime Emmy Award and a Primetime Emmy.

He lives in Los Angeles and Greenwich, Conn., with his wife, Lois, and their two daughters.

Bergeron is one of several Haverhill celebrities whose images appear on a four-story mural on a building in the heart of downtown Haverhill. He has returned to Haverhill in the past to make public appearances, but school officials said they do not know whether he has visited his former high school. Other famous Hillie graduates, such as professional baseball player Carlos Pena and best-selling author Andre Dubus III, have returned to the school in recent years to speak to students.

“We have to stress to our students that there are tremendous opportunities for them at Haverhill High School and that education is the key to their future,” said Bevilacqua, who is also president of the Merrimack Valley Chamber of Commerce and chairs several regional and statewide workforce boards.

Bergeron is perhaps best known for hosting the TV shows “Hollywood Squares,’’ “America’s Funniest Home Videos’’ and “Dancing with the Stars.’’ One of his first jobs on television was as host of a New Hampshire game show, “Granite State Challenge,’’ on New Hampshire Public Television.

From there he went on to hold several radio and TV jobs in the Boston market, including as host of “Lottery Live’’ and “People are Talking.’’

Efforts to reach Bergeron for this story were unsuccessful.

School Superintendent James Scully said it will be up him to reach out to Bergeron if the School Committee endorses the idea of inviting him back.

“He has family in the area and we wouldn’t want to impose on his time too much,” Scully said of Bergeron. “But if he was able to come by the high school for something brief, that would certainly be greatly appreciated. ‘Tom Bergeron Day’ at the high school would be terrific.”

Scully applauded Bevilacqua for bringing forward the idea of an annual recognition day for successful Haverhill High graduates.

“We would try to identify graduates in all types of fields and careers like broadcasting, engineering, the military and many others,” Scully said. “One of the biggest challenges in education today is convincing kids how important doing well in school is for their future.”

Scully suggested Bergeron is one of an untold number of former Hillies who could serve as role models for the city’s young people.

For example, he said Walnut Square Elementary School recently hosted a 60th reunion for its graduates.

“It was great to see all the former grammar school students come back from all over the country,” Scully said. “We had everything from captains of industry to a former captain of the Notre Dame football team.”