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Holliston School Committee News

by Lisa Kocian
October 15, 2017

School Committee Newsletter  Issue #1 -- October 12, 2017


Dr. Brad Jackson, Holliston’s superintendent, launched a new blog to chronicle the district’s efforts to innovate in the classroom.
Although Holliston has long been innovative in its approach to education, these efforts have gained new life as a result of recent discussions around the documentary film, “Most Likely to Succeed,” which has been screened in town thanks to the PTO.

The film and a book by the same name make the argument that schools need to evolve to reflect the changing economy. Our public school system was designed around the country’s need for factory workers 100 years ago. Now, the argument goes, students need to develop critical thinking skills, learn  to collaborate and communicate effectively, and solve problems creatively. 

Parents will not notice an overnight change. The superintendent is looking to encourage innovation in the classroom, take some of the “high stakes test” pressure off teachers, and discover how best to move in a new direction. Stay tuned.

Mental Health Issues Cause Concern 

At its September meeting, the School Committee received results from the 2016 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, which covers Holliston students in grades 6-12.

While there was good news on several indicators -- all substance use is down -- some of the mental health indicators are worrisome. As Dr. Jackson put it: “Mental health continues to demand attention.”

Overall, Holliston's numbers trend closely with other Metrowest communities. Full Holliston results are online.

In grades 9-12, 38.7 percent of Holliston High School students said life was “very” stressful in the past 30 days, up from 31.7 percent in 2006. (Metrowest communities are up from 27.9 percent to 35.8 percent over the same time period on the same question.) Over the past decade, the portion of HHS students who had considered suicide (in the previous 12 months) rose from 9.8 percent to 12.2 percent, but those who had attempted suicide dropped from 5.2 percent in 2006, to 2.7 percent in 2016. Depressive symptoms and self injury among HHS students are both down over the 10-year period, but remain too high.

Volunteers needed at Miller in November!

The Miller School will pilot the Laps at Lunch program in November and volunteers are needed. The program, already in place at Adams, provides students with an opportunity to move their bodies, connect with friends, and relieve stress during their lunch period. This program is supported by the Miller School administration and the Holliston Wellness Council, and to be successful, the program needs parents to support it! This promises to be a fun way to volunteer and get involved with the school community.

Town Meeting Time

On September 14, the School Committee approved the Budget Subcommittee’s recommendation for capital requests at the Special Town Meeting, which begins October 30, at 7:30 p.m., at the High School. At its meeting on October 3, the Finance Committee voted to recommend that Town Meeting approve the School Department’s fall capital request with the exception of the snow removal equipment item (see details for each request below). Town Meeting will vote on fall capital, among other warrant items, on October 30.


Requested Amount

New Student Information System


Replacement of Holliston High School auditorium sound system


Elementary complex technology


Sidewalk snowblower – HHS


School Committee Members

School Committee members are Holliston residents elected to three-year terms. All Massachusetts School Committees have three main purviews:

  1. Hire and evaluate the superintendent;

  2. Prepare and approve school budgets, which are subject to final approval by the town;

  3. Create and amend policies.

Our agendas, meeting minutes, and policies are available on our web site at http://www.holliston.k12.ma.us/home/school-committee

Feel free to contact any committee member with questions or comments. Please note we all have new email addresses:

Anne Louise Hanstad, Chair        HanstadA@hsc.holliston.k12.ma.us

Stacey Raffi, Vice Chair                 RaffiS@hsc.holliston.k12.ma.us

Martha Devoe                         DevoeM@hsc.holliston.k12.ma.us

Lisa Kocian                          KocianL@hsc.holliston.k12.ma.us        

Cynthia Listewnik               ListewnikC@hsc.holliston.k12.ma.us

Andy Morton                    MortonA@hsc.holliston.k12.ma.us

Joan Shaughnessy           ShaughnessyJ@hsc.holliston.k12.ma.us

See http://www.holliston.k12.ma.us/  for all the details of thisissue




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