The Hopkins School Hawk Squawk

Principal's Updates - 9/2/19

Updates from the Hopkins' Office

Dear Families,

We are off to a great start at Hopkins School! The building has truly has come to life with children enthusiastically beginning their journey as learners in Grade 4 or Grade 5. Wednesday morning, staff greeted students with our new green "Be Kind!" shirts and the "portable principal" serenaded students and staff with some happy tunes as busses and cars dropped students for Day 1. Despite a significant roof leak Wednesday night that impacted our library, there was a positive energy and spirit throughout the building. I'm certainly feeling thankful we aren't in the Bahamas this week...

The sense of community, respect, and common purpose that staff at Hopkins is sharing with your children is uplifting and encouraging. As Ms. Babson and I work our way through the hallways and classrooms, we see and hear great things happening. Kids are getting to know one another as they learn about similarities and differences amongst their classmates. Teachers are creating communities of learners and establishing the routines and expectations that make a classroom hum. Speaking of expectations, I've attached a copy of our CARES matrix of expectations for around Hopkins School below. We hope you can review these with your child- the more that we follow these norms, the better we function as a community and families reinforcing norms remind students that their families are partners in this important work. Students (and staff) are engaged in learning, eager to make a good impression, and start the year off with success! The photos below will give you a glimpse into our world at Hopkins.

Overall, it’s been a very smooth start at Hopkins. The logistics and systems we have in place for arrival, dismissal, and safety seem to be working well. There are a few wrinkles we’re working out as these critical processes become routine for students, staff, and families. Please bear with us a bit as we cycle through these for a few more days/weeks. Beginning a new school year is wrought with change: new teachers, new classmates, new routines, new settings. However, our students continue to show us how resilient they are, and how willing they are to trust our teachers. They quickly recognize our staff cares very deeply for them as individuals and as a student body, and know they are in a safe place at Hopkins. As excited as I was to begin the school year, the successes of our first two days together has me imagining the possibilities and opportunities to come!

For Hopkins' students to thrive and grow, we must celebrate individual differences and develop true empathy for one another. In this way, we will build a strong school community together as children and adults. My vision for Hopkins is one where passionate learning is built on a foundation of compassion. As spelled out in our mascot, the Hawk - Hopkins Acts With Kindness! In coming weeks, I will share how this vision fits with the Core Values we celebrate each month at Hopkins. These Core Values highlight the "21st Century Skills" that we know will help our children experience current and future successes.

I’m looking forward to seeing and meeting many of you next week for our Curriculum Nights. As a reminder, these are adult-only events. Unfortunately, space is at a premium and it is challenging to fit all adults in our classrooms! Please see the Important Dates section below for more information. Please also note, that due to the time constraints of the evening, teachers will not be available to conference about individual students. We value open communication at Hopkins, so if you would like to speak to your child’s teachers regarding your son’s or daughter’s progress you may do so by phone, voicemail, email, a note/letter, or by scheduling a conference. I hope you’ll be able to attend, but if not, please contact your child’s teacher and we will get you the information that is shared.

Finally, as I close out this memo, I'd encourage you to check out two of my favorite videos below. The first is the special story of the Panyee soccer team- an inspiring video about the importance of community- and believing we "can." The second is a video I shared with staff last week from the PS22 Grade 5 Chorus in NYC, as they perform with singer/songwriter, Andy Grammer. Watching the passion and joy of these young singers reminds us of the most important work we have as educators and parents/guardians- to nurture the love for learning in our own children. It is especially timely to think about the power of music as our 5th graders consider joining one of our music ensembles (band, chorus, orchestra) this week. More information will be shared shortly regarding these options, via the music department.


Vanessa Bilello

Principal, Hopkins School



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

  • September 9-13 - Hopkins' Scholastic Book Fair (During Library Classes and Curriculum Nights) The Book Fair is a great opportunity to purchase books for your child, support your child's classroom/teacher, and participate in an HPTA fundraiser. Children will be able to purchase books during their Library/Technology block or with their classroom during the school day.

  • Tuesday, September 10th - 6:30-8:00 PM Gr. 5 Curriculum Night - Parents/Guardians only (no children, please):
6:00 - 8:00 Scholastic Book Fair- library
6:00- 7:00 Nurse available
6:00 - 7:00 HEF, HPTA, and SEPAC in main lobby
6:30 - 7:00 Mrs. Bilello, Ms. Babson, HEF, HPTA and Related Arts teachers welcome parents and guardians in Gymnasium
7:00-8:00 Teachers share information about communication and curriculum in classrooms

  • Wednesday, September 11th - 2:30-6 PM Gr. 5 Instrument Rental - for students enrolling in ensembles

  • Wednesday, September 11th - 6:30-8:00 PM Gr. 4 Curriculum Night - Parents/Guardians only (no children, please):
6:00 - 8:00 Scholastic Book Fair- library
6:00 - 6:30 Specialists (Counseling, Speech, OT, PT, SPED Team Chair, etc.) available in Large Conference room
6:00-7:00 Nurse available
6:00 - 7:00 HEF, HPTA, and SEPAC in main lobby
6:30 - 7:00 Mrs. Bilello, Ms. Babson, HEF, HPTA and Related Arts teachers welcome parents and guardians in Gymnasium
7:00-8:00 Teachers share information about communication and curriculum in classrooms

  • Wednesday, September 11th @ 9:00 PM Early Registration for Fall Extracurriculars (for HPTA members only) begins. As shared previously, joining the HPTA provides family with advance sign-ups: many popular courses fill up quickly, so please consider joining! More information available on the HPTA website, which will have catalog available September 4th. Eligible families, requesting financial support for extracurriculars offered through the HPTA, should reach out to Mrs. Bilello in advance.

  • Friday, September 13th - Early Release @ 12:15 PM (Lunch Served)

  • Wednesday, September 18th @10AM - Regular Registration begins for Fall Extracurriculars (non-HPTA members only) begins

  • Friday, September 20th- 9:30-10:30 AM - Coffee & Conversation with the Principal - Parents/Guardians of Hopkins' students are welcome to join Mrs. Bilello to ask questions and learn more about Hopkins School. RSVP for this event.

  • Monday, September 23rd- 7PM - Executive Functioning Skills Parent Workshop- led by Dan Levine from Engaging Minds @ Hopkinton Middle School Auditorium & sponsored by Hopkinton SEPAC - All community members are welcome!

  • Wednesday, September 25th - Hopkins' Picture Day

  • September 27th @ 11:59PM Registrations for Fall Extracurriculars offered through the HPTA end (no late registrations will be accepted)

  • Monday, September 30th- No School, Rosh Hashanah
Big picture
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TMB Panyee FC short film
"Don't Give Up On Me" Andy Grammer ft. PS22 Chorus
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Hopkins School Website

Click here to visit our school website.

Beginning of Year- Key Info

Where to report on Day 1?

When students get dropped off on Wednesday, Fourth Graders will report to the cafeteria where they will meet their classroom teacher(s). Fifth Graders will report to the gymnasium where they will meet their classroom teacher(s). If students can’t remember their teachers’ names, they should ask one of our staff members that will be stationed throughout both locations and the hallways.

What are school office hours?

Our school office hours will be 7:30-3:30. Students should be dropped off at 8:00 AM, when supervision will begin in the front of school, for walkers and parent drop-offs, and behind the building for busses. There is no supervision prior to 8:00AM. See the Transportation section for more details on these procedures. At 3:30, the office closes and families will not be able to gain access to Hopkins.

What about lunch?

School lunch is available for $2.75 ($.60 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.

How can I get involved?

Families are encouraged to learn more about volunteer opportunities with the HPTA (Parent-Teacher Association), SEPAC (Special Education Parent Advisory Council), and 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.

We are also always looking for parents/guardians to volunteer at Hopkins- whether you are available weekly or for special events. We will be sharing more about these opportunities at our Curriculum Nights in several weeks. 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.

Security Reminders

Drop-off Window:

In an effort to minimize disruptions, drop off hours for forgotten lunches, instruments, and other items occur between 8:30 AM and 10:30 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 10:35.

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.

Since Hopkins’ Office closes promptly at 3:30 PM and the building will remain locked at that time, we are now asking for all families picking up students from an enrichment activity that ends after 3:20 PM to please follow our normal after-school dismissal procedures. The instructors will be outside supervising the pickup. We will post a sign on our front door reminding families of these adjustments to our practices. To review the map of traffic flow for dismissals, please click here. A reminder, it is necessary to stay in your vehicle when in the dismissal line. This applies to all after-school enrichment program, unless the instructor has arranged with families to meet at another location outside our building. This is not applicable for the Kidsborough Afterschool Care, which has their own dismissal protocols.

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. 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 below, which can also be found on our website. Drop-offs in the morning start at 8:00. Please know that if you drop off your child prior to 8:00, we are unable to provide supervision or entry to the building. Therefore, we ask you aim for as close to 8:00 as possible. Our tardy bell rings at 8:15. The pick-up line will begin dismissing students promptly at 2:30. 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 imperative that we are able to verify our transportation information for our young students. Continuous changes impede this verification. As a reminder, the last day to submit transportation changes was August 11th. On September 16th, the HPS elementary schools will accept and begin processing Request for Change to School Transportation forms.

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 Google Classroom, 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.