The Hopkins School Hawk Squawk

Principal's Updates - 1/16/22

Goodbye Ms. Julie Babson - We Will Miss You!

Ms. Babson said her final goodbyes to Hopkins' students and staff at the end of December as she started her new journey, as Principal for the Butler Elementary School in Belmont. Ms. Babson served the Hopkins' community for five and a half years, pouring her heart and soul into helping lead our community. She will be greatly missed by all! As a final tribute, I've put together a video of her time as Hopkins' Assistant Principal. I shared this with Ms. Babson last Friday and think the video highlights the passion, joy and love that makes Hopkins School such a special place. I hope our community enjoys this walk down memory lane - both pre-pandemic and more recent days!

-Mrs. Bilello

Thank you, Ms Babson!


Updates from the Hopkins' Office

Dear Families,

Happy New Year! I hope everyone enjoyed a relaxing and rejuvenating Winter Vacation. The New Year signals a time for resolutions- starting new healthy practices and recommitting to ourselves. One of my resolutions, especially with a high school senior in the Bilello house, is to continue to prioritize family time and connections. Having two teens during this pandemic has meant that Sam and Maddie might tell you there was TOO much family time the past two years; however, I think the key is always to emphasize QUALITY time! Brian and I have come to recognize that for us, “the family that plays together, stays together."

Some of my fondest memories of family time involve a board game or cards. Several times a month, between work, school and volunteer responsibilities we try and commit to sitting down in the dining room, banishing devices to "cell phone island" and pulling out a card or board game for some friendly family competition. The New Year's Resolution of "Reconnect" means we put down technology and catch up on one of our favorite family diversions: acquiring resources, fighting for territory and battling for victory points in our favorite board game, Settlers of Catan! Other times, it might be 7 Wonders, Wits & Wagers, or Illuminati! Over vacation, you could find us battling other teams on the cruise ship in a Breakout Challenge - and yes, the Bilello team did reign supreme in record setting time!

From the pics above, you can see that our students are loving the fact that we were able to bring back game time to our lunches this year, too! As a staff, we discuss the importance of encouraging social interaction during indoor recess and the lunchroom. The opportunity to engage in 15 minutes of Headbands, Apples to Apples, Chess or Connect Four with peers provides unstructured social interaction, strategic thinking, and friendly competition. I've decided that we will be investing some of our Hopkins' Gift Account funds in Giant Connect Four sets, since it is a current fan favorite in the lunchroom!

Teachers at Hopkins recognize the importance of building in these types of social experiences, as well. When visiting a classroom, you will often see students engaged in lessons through songs, dance, theatrical performance, and interactive games. Morning Meeting times are a cherished routine of our Responsive Classrooms curriculum where students practice the disappearing art of conversation, build classroom community and reinforce social skills - even behind the masks! They make learning fun and nurture the interpersonal and problem solving skills we know to be so critical in order for children to make connections between classroom education and the world beyond.

One book that I continue to refer back to as a parent and as a teacher is Bringing Up Geeks- Genuine, Enthusiastic, Empowered Kids by Marybeth Hicks. In it, she speaks to a childhood that is “dictated by materialism, competition and exposure to the adult world.” So often today that world is technology-consumed and schedule-controlled. I encourage every Hopkins family to take a break from your routines and break out a board game. If you need some suggestions- our current family favorites include Scattegories Categories, Blokus, and Citadels!

Next Hawk Squawk newsletter, I will be highlighting our Standards Based Report Cards in preparation for our Term 1 end. Standards based grading is VERY different than the A/B/C grades that many of us are used to from our school days, so please read this next edition carefully! We frequently see families try and convert rubrics or standards-based grades into percents or traditional letter grades, which can result in frustration - for children, teachers and parents.

Finally, tomorrow we have a day off from school - and a day to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I'm excited to share that some of our Principal's Cabinet members will be reading some words from Dr. King during the HCAM & Hopkinton Freedom Team's special virtual MLK Day Program from 10-11AM. The best way to watch the program is on HCAM-TV (Verizon 30, Comcast 8), or on our livestream. We hope you will join, learn more about the Freedom Team and learn ways to recognize Dr. King through a day of service!


Vanessa Bilello

Principal, Hopkins School

Welcome Mr. Cotter! Hopkins' New Assistant Principal!

After a week of 20 lunch duties, sub shortages, COVID notifications and a handful of bus disciplinary notes, I am THRILLED to announce that we have hired our next Assistant Principal for Hopkins School! Mr. Matthew (Matt) Cotter will be joining us at Hopkins, starting Monday, January 31st.

Matt (aka Mr. Cotter) recently completed his educational admin leadership program through Bridgewater State University. He holds an MEd from Lesley University and a BA in History from Fairfield University. Matt has worked in Holliston for the past 9 years after several years in Randolph.

Matt has taught 6th grade social studies, computer science, and is currently a tech integration specialist. He has served in numerous leadership roles: 6th grade Team Leader, SS Curriculum Coordinator, and Unified Arts Team Leader at the Robert Adams Middle School in Holliston, all while completing his admin licensure hours - talk about wearing lots of hats!

Matt lives in Southborough with his wife and is a proud father to four young children. He is excited to begin his administrative career here at Hopkins- and we can't WAIT for him to start! Our team of 9 staff/parent representative deliberated carefully after interviewing four finalists, and the consensus was clear that Mr. Cotter was an excellent fit with Hopkins' culture, values and needs for the future. His references were glowing and I think these lines from his current principal at Adams sum Matt up, "Through the pandemic, Mr. Cotter has demonstrated perseverance and positivity, always keeping students at the forefront of everything he does. (...) He has served as a beacon to teachers and gracefully led multiple departments!"

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Important Hopkins' Dates


As a reminder, the Hopkins' Grade 5 Music Ensemble Concert that was originally scheduled for 1/24 has been rescheduled for April

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

  • January 27th - Term 1 Ends

  • Friday, January 28th - Principal's Cabinet for Responsibility SPIRIT DAY - "Global/International Day"

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

  • February 11th 3:30PM - PowerSchool Parent Portal Opens for Report Cards viewing

  • Week of February 14th - Random Acts of Kindness SPIRIT WEEK (Sponsored by Principal's Cabinet for Kindness/Empathy)

  • February 15th- Grade 4: National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) testing (selected students- information coming soon)

  • February 21-25 February Vacation Week - NO SCHOOL

  • Week of March 7th- Understanding of Differences Gr. 4 (Blindness/Low Vision)

  • Week of March 14th- Understanding of Differences Gr. 5 (Learning Disabilities)

  • Thursday, March 17th - 7PM RESCHEDULED 5th Grade Music Ensemble Winter Concert @ HHS Athletic Center (student performers report at 6:15)

  • Friday, March 18th - EARLY RELEASE 1:00 PM Dismissal (LUNCH IS SERVED)

  • Tuesday, March 29th - Hopkins' Community Reading Day



April 11 & 13 - Grade 5

April 12 & 14 - Grade 4


May 16 & 18 - Grade 5

May 17 & 19 - Grade 4

Science, Tech/Engineering (grade 5)

May 23 & 25

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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