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 Selfies

FullSizeRender_1Since the first day of the school year administrators have been outside the building once a week, holding signs and taking “selfies” with students. We initially heard about this idea from another school Principal who we were discussing positive school with and who was promoting the idea of selfies with students. Although this may have been out of our comfort zone and certainly a different morning routine, we were out there on the first day of school (along with the school rock band and therapy dogs) to welcome students and faculty back to HHS after the summer. We had committed to “welcoming” signs for the first day of school but were unsure at that point if this would continue throughout the year.

IMG_7227Two weeks later, and two selfie days later, a student approached me in the hallway and asked when she could expect our next selfie day. She was interested to see what our sign would be and stated that she wanted us to tweet her selfie. I responded immediately that we would be outside again the next day and to make sure to find us so that we could all take a selfie together. The impact of this small activity was already felt and this interaction left me with a smile for the rest of the day.

Stepping out of your comfort zone is where so much learning takes place and in this case, contributed so significantly to the positive school culture we are always trying to cultivate.


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!


Welcome Back to HHS

Every year when I put together the back-to-school email I cannot believe how quickly the summer flies by! I hope everyone is feeling rested and recharged after having some time to relax. We are busy preparing for another exciting school year and will be ready on Monday August 28th to greet faculty and Tuesday August 29th to greet students. Although I typically try to send short email blasts that are event specific, my back-to-school email is always lengthy because there is a lot of information to communicate in order to help students and families prepare for the school year. Below you will find information essential for a successful return to school.

Information for all parents and guardians:

  • You will receive a mailing containing the opening day bell schedule/map and emergency health forms. These student emergency contacts forms and health forms must be completed and returned on the first day of school. Copies can be found on the Back to School page of the HHS Website. Homeroom/Advisory teachers will collect these forms first thing Tuesday morning and they are vital to providing the best care for your student. Please make sure that parents/guardians have signed the forms in all necessary places.
  • The Student-Parent Handbook for 2017-2018 is available on the high school website
  • Opening Day Bell Schedule: The bell schedule for the first day of school begins with homeroom/advisory at 7:30am. The homeroom/advisory location is listed on the student’s schedule. The times for the first day bell schedule are listed bellow and the complete schedule with class meetings held throughout the day is available on the high school homepage.
    • Homeroom: 7:30 – 8:11
    • A Block: 8:15 – 9:34
    • B Block: 9:38 – 10:53
    • C Block: 10:57 – 12:42 (with lunch during this block)
    • D Block: 12:46 – 2:03
  • If you have not done so yet, please sign up for an iParent account through the Holliston High School website. An iParent account will allow you access to your student’s classes, grading information, and attendance. You will receive an email from your student’s teachers at the beginning of each new course, providing information about grading practices and any pertinent information.
  • We do not print Progress Reports and Report Cards throughout the year, as they will be published through iParent. We encourage parents/guardians to share their accounts with their students so that students can access grading information on their devices.
  • Our first Back-to-School Night or Open House is scheduled for Wednesday September 27th, with opening remarks from the Principal at 6:30pm and classes beginning at 7:00pm.

Therapy Dogs Return to HHS

  • Working with Therapy Dogs International (TDI) we were fortunate to have therapy dogs at HHS during senior final exams last May. There was overwhelming positive feedback from students and many requested they return again during the 2017-2018 school year. The therapy dogs will be in the Holliston High School Courtyard before school from 7:00 am – 7:30 am on Tuesday, August 29th to welcome students back to school. Research demonstrates that therapy dogs not only improve the emotional, mental, and academic productivity of students, but also improve school culture as a whole. We recognize that for all students the transition from 8th to 9th grade and/or the return from the summer regardless of the grade level can be a challenging time and we hope that the presence of the therapy dogs will help to alleviate some of that stress/anticipation. We also recognize that not all students will want to participate so the dogs will remain in a contained location.


  • Holliston High is excited to begin Stage 2 of our one-to-one Chromebook program. Chromebooks are low-cost, cloud-centric laptops that allow students and teachers to participate in collaborative, interactive, digital learning experiences. We have seen tremendous success with our Chromebook program during the first year, and are looking forward to expanding the program in 2017-2018. All grade 9 and 10 students will have a school issued Chromebook. Grade 11 and 12 students may request a school issued Chromebook or may continue to BYOD. Please refer to the website for additional information and insurance/waiver forms.

Homework Free Vacations

  • Holliston High School will continue with four homework free vacations. During the 4-day Thanksgiving break, winter break, February Vacation and April Vacation, no homework will be assigned for any classes in order to provide students an opportunity to rest, relax, and reconnect with families. We hope that this will continue to have a positive effect on students and families.

Forms for Parking and Senior Privileges:

  • Parking forms are now available on the High School website under the Publications drop down menu, labeled forms. Stay tuned in the next few days for a new button on the homepage titled “Back to School” that will be a central location for back to school information and forms. If your student is interested in purchasing a parking pass, please download the form, have both parent and student sign, and complete a check for $50. Beginning immediately, these forms can be turned in to the main office. Please let your student know that he/she must show a driver’s license at the time the parking form is dropped off.
  • Senior Privilege forms (leaving for lunch during the week or during DSB on Fridays) are also available on the website in the same location. Students may begin turning these in immediately or on the first day of school and will NOT be able to leave school grounds until these forms are completed and turned in to the main office.

Athletic Tryouts

  • Athletic tryout days and times are listed on the Athletic Page, under Announcements. Please contact Matt Baker, Athletic Director, or the individual coach if you have any questions.

Signing up for Band & Chorus:

  • Any student who wants to sign up for Band (Mr. Bilodeau) and Chorus (Mr. Britton) (which meet during DSB), please plan on coming to the band/chorus rooms during DSB on Wednesday & Thursday, August 30 & 31 to enroll. These groups perform for Celebrate Holliston on Sept. 16 so the groups have to start quickly! Once you are signed up for the DSB ensembles, you will find out all the information for signing up for the after school ensembles (Jazz Band, Act 2, Harmonix and T-Tones).

Fall Athletic Night for Parents/Guardians and Students

  • All Fall, Winter and/or Spring athletes and at least one parent/guardian are required to attend the Athletic Night on August 30th at 6:00pm in the Auditorium. Registration procedures for Winter & Spring sports will be detailed.  The athletic director will review policies/procedures as well as rules and expectations for student athletes and parents for the upcoming sports seasons.  The athletic trainer will also give an overview of athletic training policies and procedures, injury evaluation, concussion overview as well as return to play procedures. Please see the separate Athletic Night email for more information.
HHS Administration
  • Principal – Nicole Bottomley
  • Assistant Principal Grades 10 & 12 – Anne Connoni
  • Assistant Principal Grades 9 & 11 – Patrick Kelley
  • Student Services Administrator – Tracy Conte
  • Athletic Director – Matt Baker

Please feel free to contact the main office if you have any questions or concerns. We look forward to a successful school year and are excited to see everyone next week.