The Hopkins School Hawk Squawk

Principal's Updates - 12/5/21

"Homeroom Wars 2021" - More photos next edition!

Updates from the Hopkins' Office

Dear Families,

Given the 1:1 environment we enjoy at Hopkins, along with the prevalence of iPads, smartphones, computers, and "chat-enabled" video game consoles in the lives our young students, it is important that we frequently remind ourselves of our roles as the adults tasked with protecting them at home and school. I would like to take this edition of the Hawk Squawk to once again share the importance of partnership between home and school in monitoring use of technology.

We cannot deny the advantages of living in a digital world- the benefits are immense. As a working parent with two teen daughters attending high school an hour from our home, I appreciate the ability to have a quick check-in with them- and even view their finished homework- all as I sit working in my office at Hopkins. Digital environments open a whole new world of learning opportunities, too. Students can virtually visit the Grand Canyon, debate science topics with "videopals" across the globe, create a Google Slide presentation with classmates, use Screencastify video to explain mathematical thinking and practice grammar skills or math facts in a “gamified” environment.

Children and teens navigate the increasingly digital world naturally- their knowledge and ease far exceeds many adults. However, years as a middle school and upper-elementary school educator and as a parent makes me well aware of the dangers of such digital connectedness. It is a time of great emotional, social, and physical change and development. Children search for their identities while self-esteem increasingly hinges on acceptance from peers. While there are certainly qualities that make social networking a useful tool, there are a number of concerns that we have for our students with regard to their use of social networking.

As a school, we continue to work with our students and staff in building digital literacy and digital citizenship. Topics are far reaching and include internet safety/privacy, cyberbullying/digital drama, digital footprint, and informational literacy. DESE has established standards for schools in the area of Digital Literacy, which guides us in our work. As devices are put into students hands earlier and earlier, adults must address the accompanying issues of inappropriate use of social media and challenges associated with text messaging, as well as helping students navigate virtual world and all the resources (and pitfalls) associated with it. We must do a better job of educating and preparing our students about the powerful tool that many of them now carry with them twenty-four hours a day.

I’ve heard references to the “digital backpack”- emphasizing the importance of parents checking their children’s online accounts in the same way that they would look through a backpack or folders. I frequently use the analogy comparing cell phones to a playground. As parents, when we take our child to a playground, we spend significant time introducing, observing and encouraging our child in the early days. We teach our child how to use the monkey bars, the slide, and the swing set. As the child develops confidence and skill in using those pieces of equipment, we gradually release responsibility.

When it comes to cell phones, computers and other digital devices, we sometimes hand over this “digital playground” with minimal instruction or guidelines. Children are often left to their own devices with these incredibly powerful and potentially dangerous tool in their hands with little to no supervision. While parents may monitor their children's computer use, Dr. Elizabeth Englander of the Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center believes that, “many parents turn around and give their child an Internet-enabled smartphone with no education, guidance, rules or monitoring.”

I would strongly encourage you to talk to your child about these topics- frequently. Our children are living in a world with tools that many of us do not fully understand. Instead of being reactive by relying exclusively on filtering, blocking, and screening specific “apps,” we believe it best to engage students in a conversation in which we educate, encourage and set expectations about appropriate use.

In communicating with students, I believe it is important that we convey the following:

  • A sent text or posted image may go beyond the person or persons that they send it to. Group “chats”, in particular, can spread rumors and feelings of exclusion quickly.

  • Nearly everything that we post or send is both public and permanent.

  • A text or image that a child sends or posts using photo messaging applications like Snapchat designed to self-delete can be saved and shared.

  • The importance of “time off”- children, like adults benefit from screen-free time. In our household, we use the “cell phone island” at dinner/game time and overnight to ensure time away from devices.

  • In the course of using technology, if they come across something that they question or don't understand, they should seek support from an adult they trust.

There are some outstanding guides and resources available online through a variety of sources. One that we find especially useful is Common Sense Media. They have created a Family Tip Sheet on Privacy and Digital Footprints as well as one on Digital Life. Another excellent resource for families is called Smartsocial. Katie Greer is another excellent blogger and speaker on the topic who spoke at Hopkins several years ago. The website for the movie, Screenagers: Growing up in the Digital Age, also includes some excellent resources. Thank you for partnering with us in this important work!


Vanessa Bilello

Principal, Hopkins School

Important Hopkins' Dates


Please contact us if you have any questions on events listed below!

  • Going on now - HPTO Winter Extra-Curricular Sign Ups! (see below for details)

  • December 24 - January 2nd - WINTER VACATION, NO SCHOOL

  • Friday, January 14th - EARLY RELEASE 1:00 PM Dismissal (LUNCH IS SERVED)

  • Monday, January 17th - NO SCHOOL - Martin Luther King Jr. Day

  • Friday, January 28th - EARLY RELEASE 1:00 PM Dismissal (LUNCH IS SERVED)



The Winter 2022 extracurricular catalogues are now posted on the HPTO website:

Early bird registration starting Friday 12/3 at 9pm.

Non-member registration starts Friday 12/10 at 9pm.

Please contact your HPTO coordinators with any questions:

Ganary Dabiri,

Andrea Rogers,


The Hopkinton Parent Teacher Organization Annual Membership Drive is live right now! As a thank you for joining, the HPTO and HPS have partnered to offer many great prizes, including a Hopkins' Gift Basket with a special certificate for your child to become HOPKINS' PRINCIPAL FOR THE DAY! Please visit the HPTO website for all details!

Rules: You must be a current or new HPTO member to be entered to win. One entry to win for every membership purchased. Member can only win one prize. All prizes will be drawn December 15th at 12 pm EST. Please make sure your contact information and children's grades are updated in your profile to ensure you’re entered in eligible drawings.

How can I get involved?

Families are encouraged to learn more about volunteer opportunities with the HPTO (Parent-Teacher Organization), SEPAC & ELPAC (Special Education/English Learner Parent Advisory Councils), as well as HEF (Hopkinton Education Foundation). These are all great ways to become part of our community at Hopkins- and are extremely important supporters of our schools in Hopkinton! You can find links to these organizations at the bottom of this newsletter or from our website. As a reminder, any volunteers do need to have an up-to-date CORI on file in the office. Check with the office for details on this form. Most volunteer opportunities in the building are arranged through the HPTO.


Our very own HPS EXCEL Program crew (for 18-22 year olds) has been working hard to create some fun items for the holiday season! Please visit their Niche Hop Shop and check out our fun, limited stock items. All purchases support future opportunities for our program participants. The EXCEL program will contact you with pickup information when your order is ready. Happy Shopping!

Social Emotional Learning Resources

4 Self Care Strategies for Parents | Mark Bertin
SEL for Parents

Arrival/Dismissal Routines at Hopkins School

What are school drop-off/pick up procedures?

Bus routes will be posted through the HPS transportation department website. Please be at your child's stop EARLY, but also be patient- there is no doubt that between construction in town/schools, as well as the new school start/end times, that busses could very possibly be running 15 minutes late.

Students being dropped off at the building should arrive at 8:45 AM, when supervision will begin in the front of school, for walkers/bikers and parent drop-offs (see map below). This is considered a “live drop-off,” meaning drivers must remain in their cars during drop-off time. Have your child seated in the back on the passenger side of the car and please say your goodbyes quickly, as others are waiting to drop off their children. This side will be closest to the curb when you pull up in front of the school, and will allow for the safest drop-off. The tardy bell is at 9:00 AM.

School dismisses promptly at 3:15 PM and parent pick up follows the same route as morning drop-off. It is necessary to stay in your vehicle when in the dismissal line- having your child's name printed in the dashboard is helpful and showing ID is required. This applies to all after-school enrichment programs, unless the instructor has arranged with families to meet at another location outside our building. This is not applicable for the YMCA Afterschool Care, which has their own dismissal protocols.

What are school office hours?

Our school office hours are 8:00-4:00. There is no supervision prior to 8:45 AM. At 4:00, the office closes and families will not be able to gain access to Hopkins.

How do I dismiss my child early from Hopkins - or different than their normal daily plan?

Families changing dismissal must complete the Hopkins' Dismissal Form. It can be found on our school webpage, as well. All dismissal changes MUST be completed by 2:00 PM! Please note, we cannot accommodate any early dismissals to occur beyond 3:00PM, as it interferes with our normal dismissal routines/traffic patterns.

What do I if my child is going to be absent?

Contact our absence line at (508) 435-0312.


If your child will be taking the school bus, you can access bus route information on the school district website. Hopkins will be sharing busses this year with Marathon. Route times are approximate, not exact.

Parent Drop-Off and Pick-up Procedures:

For those of you not familiar with our process, please check out the map below, which can also be found on our website. Drop-offs in the morning start at 8:45. Please know that if you drop off your child prior to 8:45, we are unable to provide supervision or entry to the building. Therefore, we ask you aim for as close to 8:45 as possible. Our tardy bell rings at 9:00. The pick-up line will begin dismissing students promptly at 3:15. Be prepared with ID for all parent pick-ups at the end of each day.

Because we have so many buses picking up and dropping off at Hopkins all at once, we will continue using the ‘access road’ to queue waiting buses. That access road exits with a right turn next to the entrance into the front driveway/parking of Hopkins. If you are in the line of cars dropping off or picking up students, please do not block the access road so buses can exit.

Dismissal/Transportation Changes for Students:

It is critical to your child and our staff at Hopkins that we know your child’s dismissal routines, or, if there is a change to transportation at the end of the day. Any dismissal changes also need to comply with our District’s Transportation policies. To make changes to a dismissal, please use the form on the district website.

It is also important for your child to know their dismissal plans each day, especially if they have different routines on different days of the week. Children are sometimes confused or forget about the days of the week. Kids can also be on “auto-pilot” at the end of each day and not think about where they are supposed to go. If your child has different plans on different days, please review with your child their schedule and routine.

Quick Links

Hopkins School Website

Click here to visit our school website.

The Hopkins Experience

Click here to watch and learn more about Hopkins School from Principal's Cabinet members, Mrs. Bilello and Ms. Babson


Our school website has static information, but it is also updated with current news, photos and bulletins. Every other week, you can expect a school-wide update from the Principal’s Office, the Hawk Squawk. This is distributed to families via email and can also be found on the school’s webpage. You can also follow us on Twitter: @hopkinsschool, Instagram (hopkins_elementary), and Facebook (HopkinsElementarySchool).

In addition to the above school-wide methods, please communicate openly with your child’s teacher(s). Each teacher has an email address and voice mailbox. Many also utilize a website and/or Twitter to share news. You can find their contact information on our school website or you can call (508)-497-9824 to reach teachers’ voicemail.

More Fun w/ Hopkins' Staff!

Only One You Fall 2021
Hopkins' Staff 2019 Goosechase
Hopkins Educators Perform at the 5th Grade Talent