Archive 2008 - 2019

Holliston School Committee News

by Lisa Kocian

Dr. Peter Botelho Selected Next Assistant Superintendent

After an intensive search process, a screening committee conducted 10 initial interviews and then selected four finalists to visit the Holliston community. Ultimately, Dr. Jackson selected Dr. Peter Botelho for appointment by the School Committee as assistant superintendent for curriculum, instruction and technology integration. On June 1, the School Committee voted to accept Dr. Jackson’s choice for this position.  

Dr. Botelho has served as the principal of RAMS for the past nine years.  He earned his Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership at Boston College in 2016. He has a Master of Education in Educational Leadership from Harvard University, and a Bachelor of Arts from Dartmouth College. In addition to his illustrious educational and teaching experience, he brings a great deal of institutional knowledge to this position, which will enable him to “hit the ground running.”  With the support of his colleagues, we are very excited for Dr. Botelho to join the administrative team and look forward to working with him on many initiatives that focus on social and emotional learning, continued curriculum reviews that advance innovation, and further integration of technology across the district.  Please join us in offering Dr. Botelho a warm welcome!

David Jordan, who has served as assistant principal at RAMS since 2013, will be interim principal for the 2017-2018 school year. Prior to his time at Adams, Mr. Jordan served as a high school assistant principal, high school biology and Earth science teacher, and middle school general science teacher.  In his email to parents, Dr. Jackson wrote: “With both his prior experience and the co-leadership role he has played at Adams, I am confident that Mr. Jordan will serve the school, its staff and its students in an exemplary way.”

The search for Dr. Botelho’s permanent replacement will begin in early January 2018, and will employ an inclusive team of parents and educators tasked to screen all applicants, select semi-finalist candidates, interview semi-finalists and select several finalists to forward to the superintendent. Details on this search process and information on how to volunteer to be part of the hiring process will be shared with members of the Adams community in late fall/early winter.  

School Start Times Subcommittee Update

For a review of why we have a subcommittee on school start times, please visit our page.  Since our last School Committee meeting, the SST subcommittee has had an opportunity to take a look at the results from the comprehensive survey that was recently open to parents, faculty/staff, and our Middle and High School students.

The subcommittee will be working over the summer and early next school year to fully synthesize all the data gathered. The concept of shifting school start times for adolescents to start school at a later time has universal interest. As anticipated, the support dissipates when we get to the question of how to pay for this shift.

Quick stats:

Who completed the survey?

  • 900 parents 
  • 1,000+ students (given to students in grades 6-12 during the school day) 
  • 199 faculty/staff members 

All surveys asked respondents for an initial reaction (in the absence of cost implications) to the concept of shifting school times.

  • Parents:  73% support, 14% oppose 
  • Students:  54% support, 25% oppose 
  • Faculty/Staff:  56% support, 24% oppose 

The subcommittee intends to continue to assess the survey data to determine additional research topics and how to initiate further discussions with the community. We look forward to providing a more comprehensive report in late fall.  

Suicide Prevention Grant Awarded

Holliston Public Schools, through a grant from the MetroWest Health Foundation, is partnering with the Wellesley Centers for Women to further educate staff, students, and families regarding depression and suicide. The grant covers professional development, parent forums, and student assessments. The administration will identify three grades between Adams Middle School and Holliston High School to participate in suicide screening through the SOS Signs of Suicide Prevention Program. Staff from Wellesley Centers for Women will work with students who present with high-risk results and their families, which may require support provided outside of the school system.

Many high school students report thinking about suicide, and in 2015, suicide was the second leading cause of death among young people ages 13 to 19 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Honoring Madame Caccavale

As an educator for 38 years in Holliston Public Schools, Terry Caccavale, known to students as Madame Caccavale, was the guiding force behind the French Immersion Program and foreign language coordinator for the district. She was beloved in Holliston and her passing in March has reverberated through the school community and prompted many to honor her.  

On Saturday, May 13, 2017, more than 130 students, teachers, parents, and community members, along with their furry friends, participated in a 2.5-mile Holliston Rail Trail Walk. This inaugural walk was organized by Michela Michielli, a Holliston High School junior, with help from a number of other students. The participants and sponsors raised more than $4,000 for the Therese S. Caccavale Award. This award, from the Holliston Scholarship Foundation, was started by friends and family in memory of Madame Caccavale.   

Michela Michielli told sponsors this about Madame Caccavale:  “She was an inspiration to all who knew her, especially her students. She challenged her students to always do our best work and be our best selves. Every day her smile greeted us with an optimism that was infectious. She taught us more than a language; she taught us how to live a profound life.  She continues to impact the Holliston community through timeless memories, persistent lessons, and unwavering courage to better ourselves and our community.”   

On May 13, Madame Caccavale’s son, Peter, accepted an Honorary Doctorate from SUNY Cortland, her alma mater, where she was scheduled to be the commencement speaker.

A link to the video shows Peter Caccavale speaking about his mother, in the section from about 39:49 to 49:30.

Dr Jackson received a letter, in March, from the Consul General of France in Boston Valéry Freland praising her “exceptional legacy” and “her passion for French and education as well as her deep dedication to her students.”

He noted that Madame Caccavale co-organized in 2014, “La Fete de la Francophonie des ecoles” at Holliston High School, which welcomed 850 students studying French from across New England. Madame Caccavale was named Chevalier in the Order of the Palmes Academiques by the French Government in 1999, and Officier in 2013.  

Dr. Jackson Elected to Statewide Leadership Post

The Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents (M.A.S.S.) recently announced that Dr. Bradford Jackson was elected Vice President of M.A.S.S. by superintendents from across the state.

“Brad is one of Massachusetts’ most senior and well-respected superintendents,” said Tom Scott, M.A.S.S. executive director, in a press release.  “His long-tenure in Holliston speaks to his leadership at the local level and his five years of service to M.A.S.S. as the Tri-County representative on the Executive Committee has prepared him to serve in this state-wide capacity.”

“Brad is fearless and unafraid to speak truth to power,” said Norton Superintendent of Schools Joseph Baeta, in the press release. “He has been a strong voice in M.A.S.S’ efforts to work with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) to give local districts more options to customize mandates to better meet local needs.”

Jackson, who has led the Holliston district since 2004, will serve as vice president beginning July 1, while continuing to serve as Holliston’s superintendent. After serving one year as vice president and a second year as president-elect, Dr. Jackson will serve as president of M.A.S.S. beginning in July 2019.

M.A.S.S. makes the needs of the Commonwealth’s students the focus of its work by influencing the development of statewide education policy and legislation, according to its press release. M.A.S.S. is currently focusing on initiatives to return equity and adequacy to the state’s Chapter 70 funding efforts, to continue to focus on the social-emotional needs of our students, and to advocate for a statewide effort to develop a high-quality computer technology program in Massachusetts’ schools.  

Flagg School Demolition Update

The Flagg School demolition project is underway. The contractor is on site, a fence has been erected around the building, and work has started. Internally the building has been divided for containment purposes. The first of these sections has undergone the abatement process, and is ready for inspection. A second section was slated for the abatement process on June 12. Utilities are being disconnected from the building, and no major issues have arisen from the demolition thus far. Currently, the project is expected to be completed by the end of August, but with any construction project, the possibility of delays exist. Below is the link to the most recent update on the demolition process. It is also available on the town web site.

The Flagg School, which was built in 1954, sits on school property, so the School Committee will discuss what to do with the parcel once demolition is complete.

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

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

School Committee meetings are held at 7:00 p.m., in the High School Library. The next regular School Committee meeting is  Thursday, August 24. The agenda will be posted online prior to the meeting.

Sub-Committee Meetings:

School Start Times Subcommittee -- Monday, June 19, 10 a.m., Central Office

All agendas are posted in the Town Clerk’s office.

Have a great summer!