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Grey Matters, January 2, 2014; Volume 2, Number 17

posted Jan 1, 2014, 11:31 AM by Andrew Shen   [ updated Jun 26, 2014, 11:13 AM by James Marcotte ]

Happy new year, everyone.  Welcome to 2014.  I hope all of you had a restful winter break. For those who participated in some exchanging of gifts during the break, hopefully a gift that you gave or received (or the act of giving or receiving itself) provided you some enjoyment and satisfaction. This American Life aired an episode entitled "Thought that Counts" which highlighted some of the more challenging dimensions of giving and receiving gifts (click here to listen).  The first five minutes were my favorite, where host Ira Glass interviews teenagers at a shopping mall about the gifts they have bought for their parents.  In case any of you received something from your kids that was a bit unorthodox or downright confusing, you might want to compare it to the mother in the episode who received some chew toys from her teenage son.  Those interviews (and the chew toy present) also reminded me of an early episode of the Cosby Show (1984) where Bill Cosby's character discussed with his children past Father's Day and birthday presents that they so generously gifted him. You can watch it on Youtube by clicking here - and fast forwarding to the 8:30 mark.


Before focusing on what's coming up, an important "thank you" to the AB PTSO for the luncheon that it provided to the RJ Grey staff before the Winter Break.  I was at home that day because the stomach virus was making its way through my own children, so I didn't personally get to partake in what was reportedly a par for the course delicious spread that was assembled in our cafeteria.  On behalf of RJ Grey staff, heartfelt thanks to everyone who contributed to the luncheon, and for the warm holiday wishes and thanks that many of you extended to your children's teachers.  


A friendly reminder that our next round of parent-teacher "5-minute speed dating" conferences is scheduled for Tuesday, January 7th, and then January 13th is when we are holding conferences that were postponed due to snow on December 17th.  This also means that all students will have an early release on both days, and be dismissed at 10:40am.  As I mentioned previously, it's always helpful to clarify and confirm with your child about his/her (and your) plans for these early dismissals and where you expect them to be/go after school (and with whom).  If you still have questions about your scheduled conference, please contact Marcia Charter ( or call x3303.


We have many students participating in the Ski Club this year, and that means on Tuesdays ski club members are dropped off in the morning with their ski/snowboarding gear.  For those of you planning to drop off kids and gear in the lower parking lot, it would be immensely helpful if the gear was organized in a way that supported a speedy drop-off. The best case scenario is if you have those ski bags that package everything up all nice and are easy to carry. Believe it or not, some of our 13-year olds throw their equipment all over the trunk before leaving the house (I know, hard to imagine), and not realizing that this creates for them a bit of an ordeal once they arrive at the drop-off area.  I'll do my best to help kids with getting gear out of the trunk, and anything that you can do in advance would be much appreciated.  


A week from this Friday, 7th graders will attend a brief assembly (led by yours truly) where we will provide a quick introduction to Project Wellness, an event that RJ Grey holds every March (this year on the 19th).  Project Wellness is an all-day, off-campus event (at Merrimack College) for each 7th grade student and an adult family member. Participants attend workshops on topics related to the social, emotional and physical health issues faced by adolescents and their families.   Project Wellness has two primary goals: to help parents and teenagers recognize the variety of issues faced by today's families and to develop, maintain, or improve the communication that exists between adolescents and the adults in their lives.  A few days after the assembly (so the week of the 12th) families of 7th graders will receive in the mail a flyer regarding the registration and workshop selection process. For assistance or any questions about Project Wellness, please call the RJG office: 978-264-4700 x 3304 or email Kate Murray at  


Finally, I had ambitious plans to read some fiction during this extended break, and I must admit almost complete failure with this goal.  The only "success" I had was reading "The Day the Crayons Quit" which was a gift to our 5-year old son, and a funny and clever picture book where a boy's crayons write him letters about their experiences (and grievances) with how they have been used thus far.   What I was hoping to read was The Lowland (click here for a review) , the most recent novel by Jhumpa Lahiri (author of The Namesake, and Interpreter of Maladies), but it's sitting on my nightstand, untouched. Thank goodness for Silent Reading.  Along with her mastery of words that stirs feelings of jealousy in me, I've always been drawn to Lahiri's work because of the storylines that explore the immigrant experience (utilizing her particular connection to the Indian-American experience) , and how their children might navigate the bicultural landscape that surrounds them.  In 2006, she wrote a short and wonderful piece for Newsweek entitled, "My Two Lives" that speaks to challenges and opportunities that are often (though not always) part of the bicultural upbringing that children of immigrants, including many students in our Acton-Boxborough community, experience, and so I wanted to share it with all of you.  An interview with NPR that she gave in 2008 also highlighted some of the same themes, so if this topic is particularly interesting or close to you, you might enjoy listening to/reading that interview as well (by clicking here).   


I am sure most of you are also closely monitoring the weather reports for the rest of today and tomorrow.  If the anticipated snowfall does have an impact on our school schedule (i.e. delay, cancellation, early dismissal) you'll receive an automated call from the District.  


Welcome back, everyone.  Happy new year.