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Grey Matters, January 13, 2014; Volume 2, Number 18

posted Jan 12, 2014, 11:15 AM by Andrew Shen   [ updated Jun 26, 2014, 11:13 AM by James Marcotte ]

It was fun to watch the Patriots win Saturday night, hopefully their success continues for a few more games.  A few friends and acquaintances had tickets and attended the game and at first I was a bit jealous.  Then I thought back to the one time I attended a Patriots game at Foxborough (last year), where the most prominent memories I have are related to the epic traffic, the $50 I paid to Dunkin Donuts to park in their lot, and the 1 mile trek I had to make to and from that Dunkin Donuts to the stadium.  Behind Door #2, a comfortable couch, a decent television, heat, and the ability to pay this month’s mortgage bill.  And admittedly, if I could get tickets to next week’s game, I’d probably go, so who am I kidding.  

Before getting into some more elaborate notes and comments, here are three reminders about upcoming events and activities:

  • Today (Monday, January 13) is our last day of parent-teacher conferences.  This was the set of conferences that was re-scheduled from the original December 17 date because of weather concerns.  This also means that all students have an early release (10:40am).  Remember to coordinate with your child about post-dismissal plans.  

  • This past weekend’s Waterville Valley ski trip was postponed due to weather concerns up north, and will now take place on January 25th.  There are a few spots available, so if your child is interested in attending and that date works better, please contact Elizabeth Broadwater at  

  • The first session of the Ski Club is this Tuesday.  Please remember that ski/snowboarding equipment is not allowed on the morning buses, so families will need to make arrangements to drop off children and/or equipment in the morning or during the day.  For those dropping off children and equipment during the regular morning drop-off, please refer to my previous Grey Matters where I mention some ways to make the process a bit more user-friendly for everyone (translation: for that poor suffering individual directing traffic in the morning).  

Last Friday, I met with all 7th graders to provide a very brief introduction to our annual Project Wellness event, which will be held on March 19th (but registration takes place now).  Later today, all 7th grade families will be receiving an email message from me that includes additional details about Project Wellness, and directs families to the Project Wellness website that will serve as the “hub” of Project Wellness-related tasks, including the selection of workshops and the registration process. When you receive that email, please review it and then visit the website.  If you have any questions, please contact Kate Murray at  

On Sunday, 8th grade parents/guardians should have received an email from me regarding the Youth Risk Behavior Survey. This is a survey that is administered every other year to 6th grade, 8th grade, and high school students in area communities regarding adolescent health issues and needs.  The email includes a letter directly from Superintendent Mills on the survey.  If you are an 8th grade parent and did not receive that email, please let me know and I’ll be happy to re-send.  

On a related note to the above, I wanted to bring to your attention to a community event that is taking place on Thursday, February 6 (7pm, High School auditorium) and is being organized by the AB PTSO and the Acton-Boxborough United Way.  To support our District’s efforts this year to encourage conversations around adolescent mental health, including teenage depression, the previously mentioned community organizations are bringing 20-year old Kevin Breel to speak to students and families at an evening forum.  Kevin struggles with clinical depression and he uses his passion for stand-up comedy to talk about his personal battle with depression.  He has made appearances on the Today Show and his TED Talk has made him a prominent speaker about teen depression.  Please be on the look out for additional information about this event, and I will pass along flyers and reminders as we get closer to the date.  

Later this week, we will be hosting two special events for our students as part of our Second Step program.  Last year, we invited ImprovBoston and MARC (the Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center) to deliver creative presentations that would address issues related to bullying and cyberbullying.  We are thrilled that both groups are able to return and work with our students again.  ImprovBoston, one of the region’s leading improvisational theaters, will be interacting with our 8th grade students, as they bring to us a unique workshop that addresses issues of bullying, and the importance of developing healthy peer relationships.  Using various improvisational techniques, and a healthy dose of humor, this troupe of actors looks to discuss the issue of bullying and model ways of defusing potentially difficult situations.  MARC, an organization based at Bridgewater State that has been heavily involved in the state’s recent efforts to address bullying and harassment in school, will be presenting to our 7th grade students about issues related to cyberbullying and challenges within the world of social media. We hope that both presentations will continue to be received positively by the students, and will generate some useful dialogue and food for thought.  

Finally, I want to share with all of you that the search for the next Superintendent of the soon-to-be fully regionalized Acton-Boxborough school district is about to enter the public and final phase of the process.  A slate of finalists will be presented to the School Committee on Wednesday evening.  Following that announcement, each finalist will be visiting the District and meeting with various groups, including an evening forum for members of the community.  Participants will be asked to provide feedback at the end of these forums, and those comments will be shared with members of the School Committee.  The visits will be scheduled on January 16, 21, 22, and 23 if four dates are needed.  Those forums will be from 7pm to 8pm in the RJ Grey Library, and the specific order of visits (which finalist is coming on each day) will be shared on Wednesday.  All finalists will then participate in an interview with the School Committee on Saturday, January 25.  Please consider attending these forums and offering your perspective and voice to this process.  

Have a good week, everyone.