Holyoke Update

4-11-19 Holyoke Public Schools News from Dr. Zrike

Dear Families, Partners, and Colleagues,

We would like to share information with you about the following topics in this week's Holyoke Update:

  • Reminders for next week - School Vacation, Central Office Hours, and Vacation Academy Program
  • Last Day of School
  • Frequently Asked Questions about the Proposed Construction of Two New Middle Schools
  • Harold Grinspoon Foundation Donates Free Books for Every Holyoke Preschool Student
  • Enrollment Information
  • Heart of Holyoke Student Art Show to Open April 25th
  • Holyoke High School Student Athletes Commit to Play College Volleyball
  • Kelly School Recipient of Community Partnership Award
  • HHS Students Participate in Credit for Life Fair
  • This Week’s Cones for Excellence in Building Student Pathways Recognition Elena Danek (ELL teacher at Sullivan School)
  • Testing Tips
  • Podcast - HHS Academies Discussion
  • News Briefs
  • Upcoming Events - such as the 7th Annual Autism Resource Night on April 24th, Free, Family Friendly, Fun-Filled Math Event on April 27th

Next week is April vacation. Families of students enrolled in the Vacation Academy are encouraged to view the information below for both the Donahue School (Honors Arts and Camp Inventions) and Holyoke High School North sites.

There are two holidays next week - Monday, the 15th, is Patriot’s Day and Friday, the 19th, is Good Friday. Central Office and school offices will be closed on these dates (except for locations running vacation programming).

The next Holyoke Update will be distributed on April 25th. We hope you are able to enjoy the warmer weather.


Steve Zrike

Vacation Academy at Donahue School - Honors Arts and Camp Inventions

When: Monday-Thursday, April 15-18, 2019

Where: Donahue School | 210 Whiting Farms Road Holyoke, MA


8:30 am-3:00 pm - Camp Inventions

9:30 am-2:30 pm - Honors Arts Academy

BUS SCHEDULE for Donahue School Site - Camp Inventions and Honors Arts (PDF)

All students in grades 2-8 who enrolled in the Vacation Academy have been accepted and will receive information packets this week.

Honors Arts Vacation Academy for students in grades 5-8

Holyoke Public Schools and ENCHANTED CIRCLE will be offering an Honors Arts April Vacation Academy. In this 4 day, Arts Exploration Academy students in Grades 5-8 will have the opportunity to experience Digital Media, Musical Theater, 2D/3D Visual Arts, Latin, and Caribbean Dance, Bucket Drumming, and community choice time where students can engage in outdoor sports and cooperative group games. The week will conclude with a culminating sharing of art experiences and demonstration of skills, and an ice cream social.

Camp Inventions for selected HPS students in Grades 2-5

Holyoke Public Schools is pleased to offer the nationally-acclaimed Camp Inventions program to children in second through fifth grade. It’s an exciting, four-day Vacation Academy adventure with lessons that will allow students to explore the connections between science, technology, engineering, and innovation. Children will work together to create solutions to real-world problems and build critical STEM skills while working through several high-energy, hands-on activities. Breakfast and lunch will be provided.

For questions, please feel free to contact:

Director Michelle Macklin at mmacklin@hps.holyoke.ma.us or Assistant Director Sam Garcia at sagarcia@hps.holyoke.ma.us

Holyoke High School Vacation Academy - Serving Dean and North Campus Students in Grades 9-12

The Spring Vacation Academy at Holyoke High School is a school program designed to provide high school students with the opportunity to engage in studies that prepare for the 2019 Math or Science MCAS and continue towards academic success in high school. The course offerings of MCAS Math Prep and MCAS Science Prep are led by high quality, certified instructors. In addition, students can elect to take credit recovery courses online through the Plato learning platform.

Vacation Academy Schedule

Dates:--------------------------------------------------------------April. 16th - April. 18th

Breakfast: ----------------------------------------------------------------7:30am - 8:00am

1st Class: ---------------------------------------------------------------8:10am - 10:00am

2nd Class: ------------------------------------------------------------10:10am - 12:00pm

Bag Lunch: -----------------------------------------------------------12:00pm - 12:30pm

All students are expected to provide their own transportation. Students in need of a bus token, please visit the HHS North Guidance Department.


For program information please contact:

Jacob Belanger - Program Coordinator

Phone: (413) 534 -2020 ext: 1113

Email: jbelanger@hps.holyoke.ma.us

For information regarding registration and graduation requirements please contact:

HHS Counselor Dept - Phone: (413)534-2020

  • Laura Vazquez ext: 1135

Lawrence School girls 2019

Last Day of School

If there are no other cancellations, the last day of school will be June 19th. It will be an early release day. Students will be released three hours earlier than normal. Visit the calendars page on our district website to view normal and early release times, a printable calendar for this and next year, and district events.

Proposed New Middle Schools - New Frequently Asked Questions Document

Read our new Frequently Asked Questions Document (PDF)| En Español (PDF) to learn more about this project, including...

  • Why is Holyoke considering building two new middle schools?
  • I am a renter. Am I allowed to vote?
  • How big will the new schools be?
  • Why not a single school for 1,100 students?
  • How much will this cost to build?
  • What will this cost me as a homeowner or business owner (per $100,000)?
  • Will new middle schools improve the educational outcomes of the District?
  • Will the community be able to use the schools after hours?
  • When will the new schools open?
  • When will the City vote?
  • Will there be middle school enrichment programs?
  • What if the City votes against the project?

Thank you to all who attended last night’s Information Session Regarding the Proposed Construction of Two New Middle Schools at the Holyoke Senior Center. View the PowerPoint presentation from the April 10th meeting about the proposed construction of new middle school buildings in Holyoke at http://pinck-co.com/holyoke-project. (It is located under the Project Files on the website, specifically under the Community Meetings folder).

To learn more or get involved...

Reach out to the Design Team at Jones Whitsett Architects by emailing db@joneswhitsett.com.

For a more user-friendly introduction to the project, please encourage friends and colleagues to review the project website:


proposed new middle schools

Harold Grinspoon Foundation Donates Free Books for Every Holyoke Preschool Student

Every preschool student in the Holyoke Public Schools is receiving free books from the Harold Grinspoon Foundation to support early reading and family engagement through a new initiative Stories to Achieve Reading Success (STARS). Nearly 2,400 books will be provided by the end of the next school year.

The STARS partnership was formed to enhance literacy skills for preschool students and their families and it includes the following partners: HPS, Springfield Public Schools and the Harold Grinspoon Foundation. This initiative will provide the following two books this year for every HPS preschool student - Rabbits and Raindrops, by Jim Arnosky and When the Leaf Blew In, by Steve Metzger. Next year, STARS will provide four books for every preschool student in Holyoke.

Holyoke Public Schools is always looking for ways to deepen our relationships with families and foster a love of literacy for all of our students. As one of the Western Massachusetts communities that grapples with poverty and literacy rates, we are grateful for this partnership opportunity and for the generosity of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation.

As a part of this program, teachers read the books three times to their class and engage in the related literacy activities that are provided. The children then take the books home with an accompanying resource that contains suggested literacy activities and tips for families to use when reading to preschoolers. We believe that supporting young children and their families in accessing high-quality books while providing suggestions for literacy activities with these books is a critical component of growing reading success in our community.

For more information and statistics about early literacy and the benefits of having books in the home and early literacy, visit: https://ferstreaders.org/resources/fifty-top-literacy-statistics.

book recipient

Enrollment is taking place now for the 2019-20 school year for students in PreK-grade 12.

Visit our enrollment webpage for applications, brochures and more information about our offerings.

Below are some notes about some of our programs.


Is your child going to be 3 on or before September 1st? Are you interested in preschool? Applications are being accepted for the preschool lottery for school year 2019-20! Priority round ends on Friday, April 19th!


Is your child going to be 5 on or before September 1st? Enroll today and beat the summer crowds!

Extended School Year

We are excited to announce high-quality Extended School Year (ESY) special education learning opportunities for qualifying HPS students in grades PK-12. The programs run Mondays-Thursdays from July 8th- August 8th, 9 AM – 1 PM.

School Choice Information

Do you live outside of Holyoke and are interested in having your student attend Holyoke Public Schools? Fill out the School Choice Application today! Click on the link below to print the application and drop it off or mail it to the Student Enrollment and Family Empowerment Center at 57 Suffolk Street (Holyoke, MA). The School Choice priority round lottery is open from April 1 to May 17, 2019. Applications must be received by May 17, 2019, in order to be considered in the priority round lottery occurring on May 24, 2019. All applications received after that date will be considered on a first come first serve basis for any remaining openings following the lottery. Applications received after July 31, 2019, will not be considered until September 16, 2019. Click here to download the application: English / Spanish

Middle School Choice Options Programs

We are enrolling students in our middle school choice programs for the following grade levels: Holyoke STEM Academy rising 6th-graders, Veritas Prep Holyoke rising 5th-graders, and Summit Learning (formerly known as P3) rising 4th-8th graders. For more information about Summit Learning, view the video below.


Heart of Holyoke Student Art Show to Open April 25th

The Annual Heart of Holyoke Art Show’s opening reception will take place on Thursday, April 25th from 6-7:30 PM at the Holyoke Visitors Center at Heritage State Park (221 Appleton Street). If you can’t make it to the opening reception, please visit the show during the Visitors Center’s operating hours to view the talented masterpieces created by HPS students. The art will be displayed until May 15th.

Holyoke High School Student Athletes Commit to Play College Volleyball

Holyoke High School student-athletes Serena Dennis and Ryan Perry signed their letters of intent yesterday afternoon at the Holyoke High School North Campus TV Studio. Serena signed her letter committing to play volleyball at Division III Anna Maria College. Ryan signed committing to play volleyball at Division III Elms College.

Coach Paula Conway had this to say about our athletes: "Serena Dennis and Ryan Perry are 4-year members of the Holyoke High School Volleyball Program. Both players are extremely coachable and have been great leaders on and off the court. They have dedicated themselves to this Holyoke born sport, to improve every skill and have become outstanding high school players. They have achieved greatness throughout their high school careers and are ready to pursue excellence at the next level."

Ryan and Serena were accompanied by their family, friends and Holyoke High School Athletic Department Staff. We would like to congratulate Ryan, Serena and their families, who are extremely excited about this opportunity.

volleyball students commit to D3

Kelly School Recipient of Community Partnership Award

Congratulations to Kelly School’s entire staff for receiving the 2019 Community Partnership Award! This award will be bestowed this evening - April 11th, 6-8 pm at Holyoke Boys and Girls Club, 70 Nick Cosmos Way, Holyoke, MA.

The Community Partnership Award is an annual award presented to an individual or organization that demonstrates an exemplary partnership. As a result of the success of our three-year partnership between Success Mentors and Enrichment Program, the Holyoke Boys and Girls Club is proud to present this year's award to Dr. Marcella R. Kelly School! The award will recognize the dedication of Holyoke Public School administration, teachers, staff and especially the students of Dr. Marcella R. Kelly school for their support in empowering our youth to become caring, responsible citizens.

Credit for Life

Holyoke High School Seniors participated in the Credit for Life Fair at Holyoke Community College today. Over 600 high-school seniors from several different schools were there. The fair is an interactive event designed to help young people develop financial literacy skills and learn the basics of managing their money.
Exciting News! We Now Offer a Seal of Biliteracy!

This is part of the district-wide effort to cultivate biliteracy in our k-12 students to give them access to the best opportunities.

Employee Excellence - This Week’s Cones for Excellence in Building Student Pathways Recognition –Elena Danek (Sullivan School)

This week’s Cones for Excellence recognition was presented to Elena Danek (ELL teacher at Sullivan School) for her unwavering commitment to English Language Learners. She is always enthusiastic and focused on providing her students with the language development and explicit learning that they need to be successful!

In the Holyoke Public Schools, we are recognizing one educator a week who is working hard to build and grow our students’ ability to: effectively communicate, think critically, productively engage as community members and become mindful individuals (from our graduate profile). We are surprising a deserving HPS educator with a construction cone that displays the words: “Awesome”, “Well Done”, and “Great Job”. To date, the following HPS educators have received an honorary Cone for Excellence: Angela Morales (Opportunity Academy); Lisa Destefano (Morgan School); David Rudzik (Metcalf School); Darlene Henshaw (Holyoke High), Ms. Casey Doreums (Lawrence School), Frederick Caswell, (Peck School), Tammy Cato (5th-grade teacher at EN White), Roberto Vicente, Jariela Cruz Caliz (Middle school alternative teacher), Trish Wilson (Donahue School), Odalis Acevedo (Metcalf School), Amy Nill (Peck School), Dr. Laura Chiaravalloti (Holyoke STEM Academy), and Laura Vazquez (Holyoke High School North Campus). These educators also receive an ice cream cone gift certificate, donated by Friendly’s, in recognition for their outstanding work. Congratulations to these educators who are focused on providing a high-quality educational experience and offering multiple pathways for students to succeed.
Cones for Excellence

Testing Tips

Students at Donahue School created this video to help students get ready for testing. Nice job!

McMahon School and Holyoke STEM Academy also prepared videos about the MCAS assessment. Visit their Twitter accounts @mcmahon_school and @HolyokeSTEM to view these creative videos.

Podcast - HHS Academies Discussion

Holyoke High School Seniors interview Academy Lead and Teacher Jacob Belanger.

News Briefs

Safer Routes to School project would improve pedestrian routes to Kelly School,” Masslive - Safer Routes to School project outlined for Kelly School students in Holyoke

News from HHS North -

  • The Community and Global Studies Academy at HHS North held a Forensic Town Hall today. Students were able to explore and experience many different jobs in the field of forensic science. Thank you to the Holyoke Police Department for participating in today's town hall.
  • Tomorrow the junior class at HHS Dean will lead a town hall that - will feature student and staff awards, CTE road-show presentations, and sports competitions
  • Fresh off their sold-out off-Broadway run, members of "Freestyle Love Supreme" will perform a set of improvised songs and stories with improvisational comedy, beatboxing, freestyle rap and singing at Holyoke High School tomorrow for an audience of 800 students. The cast will feature Andrew Bancroft, UMass Alumni Chris "Shockwave" Sullivan and Ashley Pérez Flanagan from Broadway's "Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812". Additionally, a master class will be taught to a smaller group of students offering hands-on techniques to students to tackle the skills of "Freestyle Love Supreme". Students will be given an introduction to beatboxing and rhyming as well as ways to access truth and storytelling when freestyle rapping. This event has been made possible in part by the Holyoke Cultural Council and the Pioneer Valley Emergency Nurses Association and is being hosted by the Holyoke High School Theater Company.

The Holyoke Early Learning Initiative is hosting a 2019 Kick-Off event. Please join us at the Holyoke Public Library for community resources and children's activities on Tuesday, April 16, 2019. Come and enter to win raffle prizes! Click here to view the event flyer

Conversation with Author Series With Massachusetts Commissioner of Higher Education Carlos Santiago - Friday, April 19, 2019, at 5:00 pm at the Holyoke Public Library

Upcoming Events

Visit the homepage on our website to access the district’s family events calendar that has been created to inform the HPS community of upcoming family events, that are taking place in the district. The calendar also includes school vacation, professional development days, graduation dates, and holidays. It is also located on our Calendars, Bell times, and Events webpage, at the following url: https://www.hps.holyoke.ma.us/families/calendars/.

SAVE THE DATE: Junior College Planning Night, Wednesday, May 1st at 6:30 pm at Holyoke High School North's Auditorium

SAVE THE DATE: Announcing the return of the National Players to Holyoke. A family friendly, multi-media stage presentation, now touring the country! Coming to the Peck School Auditorium for one show only, Friday, May 3rd at 7:00 pm.

ABL Bingo for Books Fundraiser

Thursday, April 11th, 5-6:30pm

210 Whiting Farms Road

Holyoke, MA

April 15th - 19th April Break Schools Closed

Monday, April 15th, 8am

This is an online event.

Holyoke School Committee Meeting

Monday, April 22nd, 6-8pm

1045 Main Street

Holyoke, MA

Autism Awareness Night/SEPAC Meeting

Wednesday, April 24th, 6-7:30pm

75 Kane Road

Holyoke, MA

The Holyoke Public Schools Autism Programs is sponsoring this evening for parents and family members to learn more about the opportunities for their children within the Holyoke Public School System as well as in the community. Click here for event flyer (PDF).

Holyoke Educational Equity Coalition Meeting

Thursday, April 25th, 5-7pm

Enlace de Families, 299 Main Street, Holyoke, MA, USA

Parent Power Math Expo – Empowering our Children’s Math Learning

Saturday, April 27th, 10am-12pm

Holyoke High School, Holyoke, MA, USA

Holyoke, MA

This event is open to all HPS families. Lunch, raffles, and transportation will be provided. Fun-filled educational activities include a Robot-Themed Escape Room, a Slime Room, virtual reality, a STEM Room, and light breakfast! For more information: (413) 534 -2000, ext. 1130. Click here (PDF) to read the Math Expo event flyer.

Holyoke Transitions Academy Ribbon Cutting

Tuesday, April 30th, 4-5pm

4 Open Square Way, Holyoke, MA, USA

The Holyoke Transitions Academy has moved to a new location. Come celebrate! Please RSVP to Kelsey Poole, Transitions Specialist, at kpoole@hps.holyoke.ma.us.

Call for Donations: Students in the Holyoke Transitions Academy are creating vision boards for a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony. They are in need of some magazines for this project. If you have some to spare, please deliver them to 57 Suffolk Street, Attention: Transitions Academy. They will be accepting donations through April 26th.

The Holyoke Transitions Academy is designed to prepare students, ages 18-22 years old with disabilities, for their change in status from a student, to an emergent adult role. We focus on various facets of life including employment, post-secondary education (i.e. functional academics, college, training) maintaining a home, involvement in the community as individually appropriate and enhancing satisfactory social and personal relationships. The Academy currently services 30 students from the HPS school district.

Do We Have Your Current Contact Information?

To ensure timely communication and keep you informed about all that is happening in our schools, we ask that you update your child's school when you have a change in contact information - phone, address, email, names of emergency contacts.

About us

At the Holyoke Public Schools, we strive to be Holyoke families’ first choice for their children’s education. Our vision is for our students to graduate with an additional credential that provides for college and career options; think critically and communicate with purpose; value themselves, value others and value being part of the Holyoke community; and lead with Growth Mindset and Self-Management.

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