June 2017 News Bulletin

Board positions available at all levels; please consider volunteering
We start with news of changes on the PTO town-wide, Middle, and Elementary PTO boards. As with any year end, we have some people stepping down and are looking to fill key roles from the end of June. We'd love to hear from you if you're interested in being our President, VP , Treasurer, or Secretary of town-wide PTO, VP or Treasurer on the Elementary board, or Culture Connection co-ordinator, Secretary or 6th Grade Carnival Co-ordinator for Middle School. Being on the PTO is a very rewarding experience that really makes a difference to our children and Holliston Public Schools.
For more information, please contact Stephanie Golub-Simon at hollistonpto@gmail.com

We're hosting a 'thank you and meet the team' drinks and buffet reception'on 6/13 @ 7pm at Jasper Hill. 

We'd love for you to come along and be appreciated for all you do to make the PTO a success. If you haven't been involved in PTO or volunteering as yet, please come and find out more. We rely on your generous donations of time and commitment to deliver our programs.

You can find out more by taking a look at our spotlight feature; 'The Value of Volunteering' , which explains how even the smallest effort can make a huge difference.
Existing and new members, and ad-hoc volunteers welcome. 

Looking ahead

We've got a great agenda lined up for the 2017-2018 school year and are excited to share some insights with you informally on 6/13. In the meantime, read on for more details on our three teams that made it to the Destination Imagination Global competition, updates on creativity and innovation in the classroom, and news of grants and scholarships.
Have a wonderful summer! We look forward to seeing you on Tuesday June 13th at Jasper Hill.


Holliston PTO was center stage recently at the Destination Imagination global finals in Knoxville, Texas. This record-breaking year produced fantastic teamwork and collective effort both in fundraising and competing in the global competition. Read more in our programs section below under Destination Imagination.

Holliston PTO is facilitating a focus group that will look at how parents can support creativity and innovation in the classroom. This idea was born from the Most Likely to Succeed screening and follow up session, but you do not need to have been part of these sessions to get involved. Our initial meet and greet will take place on 6/20 to continue our efforts to equip our students with the skills needed for the 21st century.  If you would like to be part of the group, please register your interest with Anne Buckley at parentedevents@gmail.com. More details are below in the Programs section under Parent Education.    

PTO has also awarded grants and scholarships to selected High School students. We are proud to support our students in this way and encourage them to continue to strive to do their best in everything they do. 


Don't forget to review our program news in full to ensure you don't miss an event or activity that affects you. 

Parent Education

First a change in leadership; Lynne Rahim has been at the helm of Parent Education for the past five years and is deservedly stepping down at the end of this school year. Anne Buckley, who has been working with Lynne on many projects this year, will take over as chairperson for Parent Ed.

Lynne has championed a full and varied agenda for the program, bringing industry experts, topical movies and informative content to parents, faculty, administration and the community. Her dedication and commitment have been unwavering.
Lynne explains why she thinks Parent Education is an important committee, "Parenting is tough and parents are hungry for information.  Parent Ed events are one way that PTO can give back to parents who are constantly being asked to give." She adds, "I also feel strongly that events should be free to our parents – another part of giving back."  Lynne has forged strong relationships with school administration, SEPAC and our community partners (Police, Fire, HDAAC, Youth and Family Services) and recognizes the value for the community when we collaborate for the benefit of our parents and children. 
Each year, Lynne assesses the community needs and hot topics, largely by being involved in the schools and community and listening to parent and community members' concerns to provide a balance of offerings for parents and children at each level. Tackling topics from mindfulness to addiction, and lots in between, some of Lynne's highlights include:

  • Seminars by industry experts, Kirk Martin and Joani Geltman, on how to talk to your children
  • Working with SEPAC and the administration to deliver offerings related to student anxiety, mindfulness, social and emotional learning
  • Tackling the current drug crisis through panel discussions with local experts to give us insights to current trends in alcohol and illegal drug use in Holliston
  • Hosting Chris Herren (with HEF), former Celtics player, who talked about his road to opioid addiction
  • Addressing underage drinking and the social host law through a panel of experts in conjunction with the District Attorney’s office
  • Screening the film, Screenagers and inviting local experts to talk about the age of technology and the impact of screens on our children
  • And most recently, bringing a screening of Most Likely to Succeed to the community that has led to important conversations about better preparing our students for their futures while encouraging creativity/innovation/passion and a more student led approach to learning.

We thank Lynne for her outstanding effort and wish her well in her new endeavors.    

Events; We closed the year with the follow up to our screening of Most Likely to Succeed. Our panel of five comprised of Dr. Brad Jackson, HPS Superintendent, Mrs. Karla Garvin, HPS Montessori Director, Ms. Dominique Ross, HHS Guidance Department Leader, Mr. David Jordan, Robert Adams Middle School Vice Principal and Mrs. Jaime Slaney, Sam Placentino Elementary Principal. Our audience heard a recap on the movie before the stage was opened up for a lively debate. We were so grateful for your attendance and honest participation and now have a starting point from which to grow creativity and innovation in our classrooms. 

A focus group is being established to discuss and overcome some of the challenges and obstacles to more project-based-learning from a parent's perspective. If you haven't already signed up but would like to be part of the group, please contact Anne Buckley atparentedevents@gmail.com to register your interest. The initial meet and greet session will take place next week, on Tuesday, June 20th at 7pm at Goodwill Park. Feel free to bring your kids and let them enjoy the field while we gather our thoughts and offer some suggested reading material for the summer, including some great articles to help you get ahead in researching the topic. You do not need to have already seen Most Likely to Succeed, or attended either of the Parent Ed events related to this topic. You just need an interest in being part of the shift to more creative and innovative learning for our children. We hope you can join us. 

We will be continuing this effort into the new school year and have events planned to support the theme of equipping students for the changing needs of the future. 

Culture Connection
Culture Connection continues to stimulate students' imaginations by bringing performances to our schools that enlighten and inform. 

Our first graders were taken on a trip throughout the mesozoic era with Dinoman. A full assembly show introduced the children to Dinoman through magic, merry mayhem, and magnificent props, taking them on a trip throughout the dinosaur age. Answering questions such as, how do we know dinosaurs were here? what is a fossil? and, how are they made?, the children delighted in the theatre-style presentation. Dinoman also visited each class over the next couple of days providing more fun and information for everyone. 

Our third graders also enjoyed a field trip to the Historical Society to travel back in time to the18th Century. The Historical Society, in partnership with the PTO, has run this trip for many years. The children spent a day in at the Asa Whiting House learning about traditional crafts and skills such as open hearth cooking, candle-making, cross-stitch, stenciling, herbs, and also spending some time in an 18th Century classroom, discovering how clothing differs from modern-day wardrobes, and the kind of games children would have played centuries ago.

This field trip is a highlight for all Holliston students, and is often the one that they talk about many years later. Many of our parent volunteers recall taking part in the trip as a third grader themselves! Volunteers dress up in 18th Century clothing and host a 'skill' with complete guidance and support from the Society. No experience is necessary and it really is a fun event for everyone involved. If you'd like to consider volunteering for next year's event, you can get a head-start by looking at the overview on the Historical Society's website. You don't even need to have a third grader to take part. All you need is CORI approval. Thank you for your interest. http://www.hollistonhistoricalsociety.org/content/programs

Destination Imagination

The DI Swirls, the Neon Owls, and the Barking Donuts are now back from Global Finals in Knoxville, TN, and what an exciting time they had!  A total of 16 DI members, along with their team managers and some parent chaperones, traveled to the University of Tennessee to showcase their creative problem-solving talents.

In order to be able to compete, the three teams ran many successful fundraising events and would like to thank Holliston PTO as well as all of their community supporters for making their participation possible!

We're already thinking about the 2017-18 season of DI. Next season's challenge summaries have already been posted on the website. Please take a look and let us know which ones appeal to you. www.destinationimagination.org 

Please keep an eye out for Backpack Express in September for the new season's registration form. We look forward to welcoming you back in September!


High School PTO

Holliston PTO is proud to announce that Senior Scholarships have been awarded to the following students in the Class of 2017. Congratulations to everyone who was successful and thank you everyone who applied. The standards were high and we value your interest.

$1,000 Essay Scholarship: Lucas Canavan. Lucas will attend UMass Amherst in the Fall
$500 Membership Scholarships: Andrew Milton's name was randomly selected prior to Senior Awards night on 5/31
$500 Scholarship for participating in the Christmas Tree Sales in 2013 & 2014: Maggie McCallum was the winner of this scholarship, also randomly selected from those eligible prior to Senior Awards Night on 5/31.  

Middle School PTO

The 8th Grade Dance will be held on Friday, June 16 at RAMS. The theme for the evening is “A Night in Paris”.  The event is being planned by 8th grader students and teachers.  Refreshments and treats will need to be provided by parents and volunteers – we will be reaching out for donations, so stay tuned.

Teacher Appreciation Week at the beginning of May was celebrated at RAMS with daily expressions of gratitude for teachers and staff in the form of meals and treats. Offerings ranging from individually wrapped baked goods delivered for breakfast, a candy bar in the teacher’s lounge, prize draws, teachers/staff lunch and popcorn delivery, to an ice cream social, were presented to a very grateful team of teaching staff.  The teachers repeatedly expressed their thanks for all of the attention and effort that went into creating a wonderful week to salute them for all they do for our students. Many thanks to the dedicated group of volunteers who made the week truly special.

The weather got the better of the 8th Grader's Community Service Day but a great deal was accomplished around the grounds of RAMS, Placentino, Miller and the Senior Center. The students did a fantastic job of cleaning, clearing, mulching and planting.  Their hard work was followed by lunch with pizza, salad and popcicles, and relaxing or playing games in the fields behind the school. Thank you to the teachers and volunteers who supervised the students’ work and served the lunch.  We hope to have the seniors come back next year to enjoy lunch with the 8th graders.

MS-PTO has some openings and would welcome your interest. Details on each position are below. We rely on an incredible group of volunteers like you to keep the organization running in support of programs for our students and teachers.  Please consider giving some of your time - either in a board position or by volunteering for specific events throughout the year. For more information please contact Maura Marczewski, Incoming President – MS-PTO at mjaym@verizon.net.

Secretary: This position is responsible for taking meeting minutes, presenting them for acceptance to the Membership for approval, and ensures that they are circulated and/or posted as appropriate. (1 hour/month)

6th Grade Carnival Coordinator: This is a short term commitment, usually in November. (8-10 hours) Responsible for organizing this annual event for 6th graders. No need to create the event – it’s been running for 5 years and has been fined-tuned, with all games and components on hand. It is typically on a Friday night in early or mid-November. A committee of volunteers to help plan and run the carnival is gathered in conjunction with the MS-PTO Volunteer Coordinator.

Elementary School PTO
The final Elementary PTO board meeting will be held on Tuesday, June 20th at 7-8.30pm at Anthony's on the Green.  This meeting is open to all parents. We will be closing out the year and discussing plans for next year.  If you have ideas or feedback, please consider joining us!

We are seeking leadership/coordinators in the 2017/18 school year!  We need to fill two board positions- VP & Treasurer- as well as openings with the Miller Culture Connection, ScienceFest and a new MakerSpace project, to name a few.  If interested email:Hollistonpto.elementary@gmail.com to learn more!!

Elementary PTO closed the year with a flurry of events including the Kindergarten Carnival, 18th Century Days and the upcoming 2nd Grade Crossover Ceremony.  Huge thanks to our volunteers for all their support and energy throughout the year!

A special word of thanks to our board members leaving us:

We are sad to say farewell to many of our dedicated board members this year. As with every organization, we experience turnover and this year is no exception. Unfortunately, we have a number of positions that are all becoming vacant simultaneously and we are appealing to everyone to consider becoming part of our team, as our current board members move on to other challenges. 

Kathi Hothem has been our President of town-wide PTO for the past year. She's done an incredible job of taking our organization from a PTSA to a PTO. This change has allowed us greater flexibility and the chance to apply 100 per cent of our membership dues back to Holliston schools instead of paying a portion of our proceeds to the State or the National PTA. She managed this transition seamlessly, without any disruption to the team, or the performance of the PTO. Kathi also managed the strategy and direction of the PTO, providing advice and guidance to other board and committee members to ensure the smooth running of the group. Kathi dedicated several years prior to her role as President of town-wide PTO to supporting the parent community through many leadership positions. She moved from VP of town-wide PTO into the role of President last year. Previously, Kathi headed up Elementary PTO, spending a year as VP and the following two as President. Thank you for your great leadership contribution, Kathi!

Stephanie Golub-Simon has supported Kathi as Vice President of the town-wide PTO. Stephanie has been a huge support to Kathi during the transition and has managed many of the databases and technology switches that have been required as part of the move to PTO. She has also provided counsel to Kathi for board-making decisions, and helped with developing the strategy of the PTO. Stephanie will remain part of the PTO as Membership Chairperson.

Joan Shaughnessy has managed our finances through the transition from PTSA to PTO, and kept a tight reign on our budgets. As Treasurer, she has managed our requirement to balance our receipts from membership fees, donations and other paid for activities against our expenditure. Joan has liaised with the bank to ensure our payments are managed with efficiency and professionalism. 

Neela Patel became an involved parent through PTO from day one in Kindergarten as a bus buddy!  And the ride continued for the next eight years including being room parent, library volunteer coordinator, fall fundraising chairperson, square one art chairperson, book fair chairperson and most recently Middle School PTO President. What a ride it was!

Jennifer MacDonald has held the role of VP, Elementary PTO. Jenn had a huge role to play in the Kindergarten Welcome breakfast and the Teacher Appreciation Week events, as well as providing ongoing support to the President of ES PTO. Jenn is also a regular volunteer at many other school and PTO events and hosted the PTO stand at Celebrate Holliston last year. 

Stacey Collins acted as Treasurer for ES PTO and helped to navigate the Elementary budgets through the transition from PTSA to PTO. In addition, Stacey kept a close eye on the income and expenditure for ES PTO.

We thank all of our volunteers for their commitment and dedication, and wish them well for the future.


The Value of Volunteering by Anne Buckley

Have you ever wondered about volunteering but are too afraid to dip your toe in the water? Maybe you feel like you don’t know enough about the school yet? You’re new to the community and don’t feel like you have the information yet? Feel like you couldn’t do a good enough job? Feel stretched enough already but never have anything meaningful to show for your efforts at the end of the day? All of these were me two years ago when I moved with my family from England to Holliston. I was swimming in information, none of which made sense and all of which was daunting, over-whelming and hard to navigate. I was completely out of my comfort zone and felt like a fraud for feeling ragged at the end of a long day of researching the next park to take my daughters to!

After a year of muddling through and at least being able to find my way to school, supermarkets and a couple of restaurants without turning on the GPS, I decided to dip my toe in, and volunteered to help with the PTO. As proud parents say about their little siblings as they send them off into the big wide world, it was the making of me. While this article is written from my personal experiences, I hope that it highlights how volunteering for even the smallest thing can make a huge difference – not only to the organization you’re helping, but also to your own self-esteem and confidence, and your relationship with your child.
I started out by offering my time to the school through library sessions, assisting with classroom activities and ad-hoc projects, before branching out to the PTO. I love to write, and so thought I’d try my hand at the town-wide PTO newsletter. I have a background in PR and communications, but still felt like I had a lot to learn at the Holliston level. This forced my hand. I suddenly became involved in what was going on in and around our schools, and not just Elementary where my two daughters are currently, but across the school platform. It was enlightening. I learned even more about the programs on offer – putting context behind Destination Imagination, Culture Connection and others that I’d heard banded about but had been too afraid to ask.
With a toe in and enjoying it, I decided to immerse myself and volunteered to work-shadow our Parent Ed programs chairperson who was planning to ‘retire’ from her 5-year tenure. Events was another passion of mine, having hosted press and analysts for many years, how difficult could it be to switch to hosting events for parents?! I tentatively worked alongside Lynne Rahim, watching and learning how she navigated the Parent Ed landscape and quickly became more committed than I thought I imagined. This was important. It was useful. And it was interesting!
I think I’ve got the volunteering ‘bug’ now. I find myself putting my name forward for sign-up genius requests for activities that do not directly affect me or my children, but affect someone’s children in the community. I appreciate that many parents work, and are unable to commit to a long-term position, but would really urge each and every one of you to consider the ad-hoc volunteer opportunities that come your way. I have found such a sense of satisfaction and personal achievement through offering my time – both on an as-needed basis and a longer-term commitment.
In my opinion, the benefits I have enjoyed are worth taking a couple of hours off work for if your schedule allows for it; I frequently volunteer my husband and he absolutely loves the change of pace from his business life. I really feel part of my child’s education through co-operation with the school. I love the looks on the children’s faces as they race around a school field trip to the zoo, or make their own candles at the 18th Century Days, but equally satisfying is seeing the progress as children check out more advanced books from the school library and engage in telling you why they loved a certain plot, or spending an hour planting peas in the school garden.

I could go on, but I’m conscious of space, and your precious time. I’ll close with my honest belief that you will certainly get (at least) as much out of volunteering as your children will by having you attend some of their school events. We know there are lots of requests for your time, but please consider volunteering with a different perspective. It’s not something on the list of things to do, but something that can be extremely rewarding and create a lasting memory.

Volunteer Opportunities

We have lots of positions open currently and would love to hear from you if you can offer to own a role this school year, or if you are able to volunteer for a particular activity.  

Click on the Volunteer button below or fill in the online or downloadable form to get involved and join us. If you'd like to speak to anyone on the PTO for an informal introduction or to get an idea of the role, please contact Stephanie Golub-Simon at hollistonpto@gmail.com, or come to the PTO thank you on 6/13 at 7pm at Jasper Hill (details above).

Important Notice to All Members: 

Executive Board Openings

Holliston PTO has several vacancies that we are looking to fill:

Town-wide PTO: President, VP, Treasurer, Secretary
Middle School PTO: Secretary

Elementary School PTO: VP, Treasurer

All job descriptions are available at the following link:
http://hollistonpto.org/job-descriptions/  and click on 'Job Descriptions Summary for town-wide and all school levels' at the bottom of the page.

Please contact Stephanie Golub-Simon at hollistonpto@gmail.com for more information

Holliston PTO thanks you for your support and your membership. Please remember to renew your membership at the beginning of each school year - Memberships are $20/family and good for one school year.  If you would like to know where your membership dollars and additional contributions go, click here.

Our mailing address is: