The Hopkins School Hawk Squawk

Principal's Back to School Update - 8/29/22

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Only One You at Hopkins School 2022

Back-to-School Updates from the Hopkins' Office

Dear Hopkins' Community,

The time has come- backpacks are being filled, lunch boxes cleaned, clothes laid out, schedules reviewed and so much more! Everyone is busy preparing for the first day of school this Wednesday! The teachers and staff at Hopkins have been busy too, making sure the classrooms and building are ready to go - as well as their lessons. I can speak with confidence that the group of educators and support staff we have at Hopkins- from secretary to custodian, nurse to paraprofessional, classroom teacher to specialist- are some of the best in the business. Each and every member of our Hopkins' team is dedicated to ensuring that your child's journey in fourth and fifth grade is a special one of growing and learning.

I know well the emotions that go along with this week. I feel them myself as I prep Maddie for her first day of 11th grade. I definitely feel them making final preparations for Samantha to board a plane this Friday for her first year of college - 2,500 miles away! Even at 16 and 18 years old, their butterflies about "Day One" returned this past week, as have mine as mom! Transitions in life are not easy - please know that the teachers and staff feel these emotions, too. Each year, we start over again and get that same funny feeling in our tummy as we think about meeting all of you and the journey ahead. It is one of the most special things about working in a school. Below, in the Social Emotional Learning section, I've included some of my resources for families navigating these emotional times with their children. Author and social researcher Brene Brown states, “Sometimes the bravest and most important thing you can do is just show up.” Wednesday, your child (and their teachers and principal!) will show up and be brave together!

Of course, a school year start is a time of uncertainty, but please know that when your child arrives at our doors Wednesday morning, there will be 95+ dedicated and compassionate staff to welcome them to Hopkins- from office staff and classroom teachers to custodians and kitchen crew to music teachers. We promise that we will give it our all to care for your children. We recognize that families are trusting us with their most prized possessions. Nurturing them is our life work and our passion. It is what brings us to Hayden Rowe each and every day. We will be there for you and your children- and we know that you will do the same for us. We will do amazing things together.

Below, I've included the basic logistics for our school again. While we've shared these before, it never hurts to revisit them. Routines and structures are important because they make us feel safe and secure. As I mentioned in the last edition of the Hawk Squawk, families are encouraged to check out our "Who's Who at Hopkins School," one last time to match faces with names. If you didn't make it to one the events in building the past few weeks, you are encouraged to watch "The Hopkins Experience" Orientation video on the website with your child- it includes footage from around the building and will help your child feel more confident as they enter the school this week. I've also included both the PDF of our slide presentation to new HPS families, all about Hopkins, as well as a link to the 4th grade webinar that Mr. Cotter and I hosted last Thursday night. Finally, above, you will find a short video - of me reading one of my favorite picture books, that inspired our whole school theme.

Hopkins' staff will be out in full force to greet students Wednesday morning- at the busses and the carline drop-off area. They will all be wearing blue shirts that share part of our daily message to students, "There's Only One You!" A helpful grownup will never be far away or hard to find! Classroom teachers will be stationed around the field with signs showing the teacher names. In addition to faces, I'd encourage you to review teacher names (in writing) with your child, so they can look for that sign. Do stay tuned for updates tomorrow night, as the rain looks like it may make it necessary for us to pivot and greet 4th graders in the gym and 5th graders in the cafeteria. No worries, though- Mr. Cotter and I will be on hand with other support staff to make sure that students are safely handed off to teachers! So, give them hugs and tell them you care. Tell them to be brave- and know that we will do the same! Here's my back-to-school letter for the students!


Vanessa Bilello

Principal, Hopkins School

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Important Beginning of Year Dates

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

    • Wednesday, August 31st - First Day of School! Students will meet teachers on the Hopkins’ Field (unless there is rain - Mrs. Bilello will email Tuesday night if the plan changes). Staff will be wearing turquoise "Only One You!" t-shirts, making them easy to spot for any child needing help!

    • Friday, September 2nd - No School

    • Monday, September 5th - No School

    • Monday, September 12th - Friday, September 16th - Hopkins’ Scholastic Book Fair (during library classes and during Curriculum Nights)

    • Monday, September 12th - 3:45-6:00 PM - Gr. 5 Instrument Rentals in Hopkins’ Cafe - for 5th graders choosing to enroll in an instrument ensemble

    • Tuesday, September 13th - 6:30-8:00 - Gr. 4 Curriculum Night - in person, adult only: An opportunity to learn more about curriculum highlights from your child's teachers during this annual event - please make sure you put these September nights on your calendar now. We are excited to welcome the adults supporting 4th and 5th graders at home into their child's classroom for an information session and an opportunity to meet their teachers. We cannot accommodate children at these events- please make alternate arrangements.

    • Wednesday, September 14th - 6:30-8:00 - Gr. 5 Curriculum Night in person, adult only: An opportunity to learn more about curriculum highlights from your child's teachers during this annual event - please make sure you put these September nights on your calendar now. We are excited to welcome the adults supporting 4th and 5th graders at home into their child's classroom for an information session and an opportunity to meet their teachers. We cannot accommodate children at these events- please make alternate arrangements.

    • Friday, September 16th - Early Release @ 1PM (Lunch is served)

    • Monday, September 26th - No School

    • Friday, September 30th- 10:30-11:00 AM - Coffee & Conversation with the Principals - Parents/Guardians of Hopkins' students are invited to join Mrs. Bilello & Mr. Cotter via Zoom to ask questions and + learn more about Hopkins School. RSVP for this event.

    • Wednesday, October 5th - No School

Principal's Cabinet-Led Tours for 4th Grade were a Huge Hit!

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Hopkins' Staff Prepare for Students - and Celebrate Being a "School" of Fish!

The Hopkins Experience

Click here to watch and learn more about Hopkins School from Principal's Cabinet members, Mrs. Bilello and Ms. Babson, our previous AP (created last summer, but filled with footage from around Hopkins!)

Hopkins School Website

Click here to visit our school website.

Beginning of Year- Key Info

All information below can also be found on the Hopkins' website.

Where does my child report on Day 1?

We anticipated that students would meet staff on the school field in the morning. Classroom teachers will be holding up their name on signs; however, the weather may not cooperate with this plan! If we need to be inside, fourth graders will meet teachers in the gym and fifth graders in the cafeteria. I will make the call by Tuesday at 5PM. We recognize that many students may be anxious - please know there are MANY adults to assist students! If you have special concerns, reach out to the office. The best thing families can do to help is ensure that their child knows their homeroom teacher's name (including reading it!). Reviewing key names/faces in the "Who's Who" (shared above) is also VERY helpful!

What are school drop-off/pick up procedures?

Bus routes will be posted through the HPS transportation department website. Students being dropped off at the building can arrive starting at 8:35 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 now at 8:55 AM. Students do go up to classrooms by 8:45 to unpack at lockers and get organized for the day. Families are encouraged to drop off by 8:45, as it allows students plenty of time to settle in each morning.

School dismisses promptly at 3:15 PM - 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 also 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 8:35 AM. At 4:00 PM, 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.

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

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

What about lunch?

FREE MEALS FOR ALL STUDENTS: Free meals are available to all students once again this year, due to MA state funding. No documentation/application is needed to receive these benefits. Only complete, reimbursable meals are eligible (1 meal, with milk, per lunch period). Snacks, single milks, water, seltzers, double meals, etc. are NOT FREE and will be charged accordingly. Students are required to pick their option (hot, vegetarian, cold) at 9AM each morning and no changes are allowed to their orders during lunch.

Access elementary school lunch menus here. Additional lunch is available for $3.00 ($.75 for milk). Online payments can be made through the HPS website, or with a check. Students are also welcome to bring their own lunch. As a reminder, Hopkins students do have lunch on Early Release Days, but not on Early Dismissal Days. Please check the school calendar on the website for details.

What about lockers?

Hopkins School students will be using lockers for storage of their coats, backpacks and lunches only. Hopkins does not permit students to lock their lockers. As a reminder, Hopkins School is not responsible for lost or stolen valuables. Students are asked to keep such items at home.

Other Key Info?

Be sure that you and your family review our HPS Elementary School Handbook prior to the start of the school year- all families are required to sign off that it has been reviewed each year.

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. Many of these volunteer-run organizations will be at our Curriculum Nights for families to learn more.

Hopkinton Parent-Teacher Organization

The Hopkinton Parent-Teacher Association (HPTO) provides students at our elementary schools with a variety of enrichment programs during the school year to enhance and support classroom instruction. THE HPTO organizes parents/guardians to volunteer at Hopkins - whether you are available weekly or for special events. The HPTO counts on your membership to support activities in the schools that are enjoyed by all. For more information, please visit the HPTO 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. Volunteer opportunities are frequently coordinated through our HPTO.

Security Reminders

Drop-off Window:

In an effort to minimize disruptions, drop off hours for forgotten lunches, instruments, and other items occur between 9:00 AM and 11:00 AM at Hopkins School. Please do not bring forgotten homework to school. To drop-off items, you will be buzzed into our main entrance exterior door, and a table will be located in the vestibule. Please leave the clearly-labeled items on the table. We no longer allow visitors into the main section of the building to drop-off forgotten items. Our staff will call students down to the Main Office to pick up these items at approximately 11:00.

School Doors:

Just a reminder that we ask for everyone’s support to prevent ‘tailgating.’ While holding the door open for others is a polite thing to do, it can be a security risk in our schools. Please do not hold the door open for others; we kindly ask that all visitors pass through our buzz-in system at the main entrance to the school.

Social Emotional Learning Resources

Back-To-School Tips For The New School Year | TODAY All Day Back-to-School Bootcamp
Back-to-School Tips for Parents From Kids

Quick Links

Hopkinton Family Support Organizations


Arrival/Dismissal Routines at Hopkins School


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. We recommend that you be at bus stops somewhat earlier than the printed times for the first week or so, until the buses have a chance to fully establish their routines. We encourage a 10-15 minute window at the beginning of the year, as route times are approximations. Be respectful of the time, as those not prepared will delay the route for all. For the dismissal route, again, please allow a 10-15 minute window of time. 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 above, which can also be found on our website. Drop-offs in the morning start at 8:35 AM in the front of the school. Please know that if you drop off your child prior to 8:35, we are unable to provide supervision or entry to the building. Therefore, we ask you aim for as close to 8:35-8:40 as possible. Our tardy bell rings at 8:55. 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.


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). Ms. Babson sends out the Hopkins Herald newsletter every other month. This includes articles written by staff and students at Hopkins, as well as many pictures from our hallways.

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.

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