Student Feature Fridays

Eamonn Powers

IMG_0799This week’s Student Feature Friday is senior Eamonn Powers. Eamonn used his love of fishing to develop a Vortex River Aerator to help oxygenate streams in order to allow fish, specifically trout and salmon, to survive when water temperatures rise and oxygen levels decrease. He created a system of pipes that would allow water to spin (think of a controlled underwater tornado) as it ran through them, generating higher levels of oxygen and using only the power of the water current to bring oxygen rich water downstream. Through his work with Mr. Marsh and his senior project, he has developed several prototypes and has now partnered with a scientist in Woods Hole to eventually bring his prototype to production. His ultimate goal is to have his device made of good quality, Eco-friendly materials and placed into streams all over the world. For more information on his project check out his Google Slide Presentation or his Senior Project Reflection Essay.

When asked how he developed a passion for this work, Eamonn spoke about the support from his parents and many fishing trips with his dad. He recalled an experience he had when he was 10 years old fishing off a pier in the ocean. He explained that he caught a fish with such strength that it snapped his line in 30 seconds. From that moment on he was hooked  (pun intended). As he became more involved in fishing he began to learn that populations of fish were in danger and he felt compelled to protect the fish populations that are so vital to the environment. Eamonn is well on his way to making a significant contribution to the world and plans to study Fisheries Biology in college with the hope of working with the U.S. Fisheries and Wildlife Department. He also plans to continue his research at a college or university where he would like to be a professor.

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Q: What have some of the obstacles been in working on this project and how have you overcome them?

A: The main obstacle that I consistently faced was creating a device that not only created a substantial amount of dissolved oxygen, but was also realistic to place in a stream. Often times a prototype would work extremely efficiently yet it just wouldn’t work well placed in an actual river. Other times I would create a prototype that would fit very well in a stream or river but it realistically would not create a significant enough amount of dissolved oxygen. I overcame these obstacles by creating many prototypes and testing new prototypes practically every day for a number of weeks. Eventually I was able to create a device that would work well in a stream and created a significant amount of dissolved oxygen.

Q: A few times during our conversation you spoke about research. Why are you interested in pursuing research at a college or university as part of your career and why do you feel it is so important?

A: I am interested in pursuing research at a university and in my career for a number of reasons. I personally find studying trout and salmon to be fascinating. They are both amazing families of fish with different species around the world. They are beautiful fish with an amazing story, history, and life cycle. These fish are not only beautiful, and amazing, they are also crucial members of global ecosystems. Take an Alaskan sockeye salmon for example, these fish are born in streams, rivers, and lakes across western Alaska. After spending a few years growing in freshwater they migrate out to the sea as a salmon “smolt.” Once in saltwater sockeye salmon migrate hundreds of miles into the middle of the northern Pacific ocean, feeding on shrimp, plankton, and other small fish. After living in the ocean for a number of years they migrate back to the same water body where they were born. After reproducing in these waters they die, depositing nutrients into the stream, river, or lake, and surrounding land. This one species of fish travels through lakes, streams, rivers, coastal ecosystems and ocean ecosystems. Throughout their lives they feed on aquatic insects, eels, shrimp, plankton, other smaller fish, and many more different types of food. Throughout their lives they serve as a food source for bears, humans, birds, seals, freshwater fish, and sharks. This one species of fish is so incredibly important and research is so incredibly important to protecting it. Research gives an insight into their behaviors, their threats, and means of restoration and conservation.

Q: Can you explain the impact that AP Environmental had on your interest in working with this project.

A: My AP Environmental science class had a big impact on my interest on working with this project. It got me thinking about the science behind fisheries and the threats to cold water fisheries and the environment in general. It helped to inspire me to want to find a solution to a common problem, hot and low water in streams and rivers in the summer.

Q: This project has taken a tremendous amount of time, energy, learning and perseverance on your part. What have you learned through the process that has been the most meaningful?

A: I have learned that if you put in the time, effort, and research, a dream or idea can become reality. In junior year I had an idea of a device I wanted to create. I did not know how I was going to do it or what the device was but I knew what I wanted it to accomplish, an increase in dissolved oxygen levels in streams and river using only water current as a source of energy. I knew a device like this could be extremely helpful in helping coldwater fish populations so I decided to pursue it by signing up for a senior project. After weeks of research, talking with fisheries professionals, and talking with teachers, I was able to turn an idea into a concrete, functioning device. It’s an amazing feeling.


Student Feature Fridays

Connor Hennessy

connor hennessyThis week’s Student Feature Friday is Connor Hennessy, a senior at Holliston High School who has already found a way to gain full-time employment harnessing his passion for marketing. What struck me most about my conversation with Connor is that he already has a clear vision for how he wants to live his life and is working hard to accomplish his goals. Connor described working at his first job in 10th grade at a dog daycare. He described working there for one week and deciding that the job was not for him and that he wanted to be his own boss. “I want freedom, I don’t want to be tied down to a schedule.”

Since holding his first job in 10th grade he has worked hard to develop a client-base for managing social media accounts and marketing for several different companies. His perseverance and resilience allowed him to tried many different business ideas, fail at some of them, try again, and ultimately gain full-time employment working remotely for a company in San Diego. Connor stated that he didn’t want to wait until after high school or college to start doing something he loved. His advice to others, “try a lot to find you passion and do a lot of research on stuff you might find interesting.”

Q: How did you discover your passion for marketing?

A: I always had an interest towards social media, and more specifically the marketing that went into. I “tried it out” by offering free services to local companies. Once I got a taste of the business, and the freedom and flexibility it gave me, I was hooked!

Q: Several times during our conversation you mentioned “networking” and “connections”. Why do you feel this is so important?

A: This is so so important. There are so many opportunities out there in the world, especially as high schoolers, but without the initiative of trying, you’ll never see any of them.

Q: You described trying “8 business ideas before making a cent.” How did you develop such strong perseverance? What drove you to keep trying after the initial ideas did not work out?

A: I saw success happening all around me. All of my mentors that I got through networking, all my colleagues that were in the same boat as me. I knew it was possible, and I was determined to keep trying until something stuck.

Q: Can you describe your current employment as an “online grow specialist”?

A: I work with a well-known marketing agency full time. My responsibilities range from running social media pages to planning and running full-scale ad campaigns on Facebook, Instagram, and Google.

Q: What advice would you have for other students who are interesting in starting a business?

A: Try as much as possible. Take one thing you’re interested in, do a TON of research, and just try things. You’ll never know what could have happened if you don’t.

Student Feature Fridays

Aidan Krantz

Aidan KrantzIf our students are our future, then it is clear after meeting Aidan Krantz that our future is bright and hopeful. Aidan is an 11th grader who cares deeply about her community. She is kind, intelligent, generous, and passionate about showing appreciation for others. Last year she created Give Back to Givers to promote volunteerism in Holliston. On her website,, she displays the following quote: “The heart of a volunteer is not measured in size, but by the depth of their commitment in the lives of others.” Her commitment to others is remarkable and I am excited to watch her charity make a difference in the lives of so many.

Q: What made you want to start Give Back to Givers?

A: I wanted to start Give Back to Givers after seeing the impact that all of the volunteers in Holliston had on my life and the lives of everyone else in town. I noticed that these people never got recognized, even though they worked so hard and dedicated so much of their time to others.  I wanted to raise awareness of volunteerism, and get kids and teenagers involved in the town and showing appreciation for all of the town’s volunteers.  Give Back to Givers was formed with the intent of being a source of volunteer and leadership opportunities for high-schoolers, children’s groups (such as girl/boy scout troops), and other young people.

Q: What was the process like to become a 501(c)3 charity and why were you interested in this designation as a charity?

A: In order to become 501(c)3 certified, I had to first create Articles of Incorporation.  Once Give Back to Givers was a corporation, I had to apply to be tax-exempt (501(c)3) and receive government recognition as a non-profit.  Now, each year, I have to re-apply to the government in order to remain tax-exempt.  I was interested in Give Back to Givers being designated as a charity for many reasons.  First off, I could open up a bank account (for our fundraising) and not have to pay taxes or fees on it.  Secondly, we do not have to pay yearly taxes to the government and we can also receive discounted postage (which comes in handy for many of our projects).  Finally, it helps to spread the word about Give Back to Givers because being a “corporation” leads to Give Back to Givers being put in phone books, resource websites, and more.

Q: Can you explain a project/event that your group has completed and one that you are involved in now or have scheduled for the future?

A: In February, Give Back to Givers cosponsored the Holliston Food Pantry’s Volunteer Appreciation Dinner.  We had kids from our “volunteer base” work as servers at the event, as well as work together before the event to decorate the room and get it ready.  We also had several high school students who decorated small vases and plant marigolds as a small “gift” to give away to each volunteer at the end of the night.  Finally, we worked closely with HHS student Cam Todd to create a video presentation of pictures of Food Pantry volunteers doing their work!  The night was so much fun for everyone, and the volunteers who attended definitely felt very special!

Currently, Give Back to Givers is working on thanking all of Holliston’s Fall Youth Sports Coaches.  There are over 250 people who dedicate their time to soccer, football, and cheerleading teams in Holliston, and we noticed that they do not get the recognition they deserve.  The HHS soccer teams, football team, and cheerleading team have all written and signed thank you notes for each sport’s youth coaches.  These letters of appreciation will be sent out in the near future, and they will hopefully be a nice reward for the coaches.

Q: What has been the most meaningful learning for you as part of this process?

A: The most meaningful learning for me while creating Give Back to Givers has been how much teenagers in Holliston are willing to give back to their community.  I have had so many kids come up to me and ask me if they can join the group and be part of our activities.  Kids from all grades have taken leadership roles in individual projects and have done such a good job and have helped so much to make the group so successful.

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Student Feature Fridays

Cameron Todd


Holliston High School is currently transitioning from a BYOD model to a 1:1 Chromebook model for all students. Although the full transition is occurring over the span of a few years, we are excited that all 9th and 10th graders have Chromebooks and roughly half of our juniors are utilizing school issued Chromebooks. The success of this transition and implementation could not have been possible without the Panthers Instructional Technology (PIT) Crew. In addition to handling all aspects of the Chromebooks, these dedicated students also troubleshoot technology challenges within the building and oversee the makerspace in the library.

IMG_7425PIT Crew is open to all students in grades 9-12 who are interested in coding, social media, video production, web design, 3D printing, and hardware troubleshooting. You don’t need to be a tech expert…just have an interest in technology and willingness to learn!

Cam ToddThis week I am pleased to highlight Cameron Todd, one of the talented, innovative and dedicated PIT Crew members who has worked with PIT Crew since its inception a year and a half ago. Cam is very hard working and always has a smile on his face and a positive attitude. He oversaw the beginning of the Chromebook roll-out and has come in during the last two summers to assist with the distribution of Chromebooks during the 9th grade orientation held at the end of August.

Q: What is the PIT Crew and why were you interested in joining?

A: The PIT Crew is the high school’s very own tech support team. PIT Crew stands for Panthers Instructional Technology. I was interested in joining because I had always had a “thing” for tech, I figured it would be a great fit for me and it has been.

Q: What has been the best learning experience so far in working with the PIT Crew?

A: The best learning experience I have had working with the PIT Crew has been learning how to think quickly and respond promptly and efficiently.

Q: There is a lot of conversation about the skills students will need when they enter the workforce, what skills do you think are being developed through your work right now?

A: There are so many skills that are being acquired and developed right now through my work in the PIT Crew, a few of the most important are the ability to work with others on a common goal, being able to assist people with their issues and be able to fix them, and communication. I believe communication is the most important skill to learn because to work in a group you have to be very specific in what your plans or goals are so everyone can be on the same page.

Q: Why is it important for students to learn about technology?

A: It is important for students to learn about technology because it is the future. That is the simplest way to put it, having even a basic understanding of technology helps so much in everyday life. Students rely heavily on tech for all kinds of school work, so being able to understand how to use it to your advantage is very important.


Student Feature Fridays

Melanie Galeaz

Melanie Galeaz

Senior Melanie Galeaz is involved in writing poetry, volunteering, and serving on School Council and the Beautiful Mind Campaign. In addition to her many pursuits, she completed Stress Management & Psychology last year and recently presented her project to the faculty during the October Faculty Meeting.


Q: Why were you interested in taking the Stress Management class?

A: Not only did I think the class would help my stress, but I thought if I learned more about stress I can help others deal with stress.

Q: What skills did you learn from that class that you think all students should know or be exposed to?

A: In stress management, I learned that stress can be a good aspect in our lives and it is all about perspective. In order to handle stress, we have to see it is a motivation for us to succeed and not something that holds us back.

Q: In your video you focus on the message of hope. How did you choose this as your overall theme?

A: Encouraging hope and optimism has always been something I strive to do. Video editing is a passion of mine, and being able to weave the two together was very appealing to me. I already knew the song in the video prior to the project and I always wanted to make an inspirational video with it. I chose “hope” with the goal of inspiring others to find the light in everything they do.

Q: What was it like presenting your video to the faculty at the start of the faculty meeting?

A: Presenting my video was nerve wracking but also a wonderful experience and opportunity to practice presentation skills. Everyone was very welcoming and encouraging during my presentation. I was ecstatic when the faculty enjoyed my video!