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Grey Matters, June 9, 2014; Volume 2, Number 37

posted Jun 8, 2014, 9:13 AM by Andrew Shen   [ updated Jun 26, 2014, 11:05 AM by James Marcotte ]

I’ve been thinking about summer vacation a lot a little bit, and talking to some of the students about their plans.  The summer after my 7th grade year, we visited Hayward, California (near Oakland) and stayed with my grandmother for about a month.  Memories of this trip came flooding back recently because of a story last week in about how ABC Family just aired The Little Mermaid. With not a lot to do at my grandmother’s, my sister and I watched her copy of The Little Mermaid no less than 200 times, eventually trading roles and singing different parts several times a day.  For better or worse, I don’t remember most of the Latin that I learned in middle school, but I do remember all the lyrics to “Under the Sea.” I’ve also got Disney on my brain, because there is currently a campaign in my home to book a vacation to Disney World this summer.  I just used the Disney website to plan a possible trip, but I think there is a glitch with their online program, because the total estimated bill keeps coming back with too many digits after the dollar sign.  If any of you has some useful tips and hints for a Shen family excursion to Disney (World), as I know nothing about Disney-related vacations, I am standing by to receive your advice and any donations.  

A very important note about our end-of-year field trips on Tuesday, June 17, regarding transportation home at the end of the day: 7th grade students will return to RJ Grey before the 2:06 dismissal, and can take the bus home during the “regular” time (or be picked up).  Our 8th graders will be returning from Canobie around 3:45pm.  Please note that our District’s buses will return to do a second run for our 8th grade students. However, because they are finishing their elementary routes, some buses will pick students up at 4:00pm, and others may start these second runs closer to 4:20-4:30pm. We will stay with the students in the auditorium until their buses arrive, or families are welcome to make other arrangements to pick their children up after we return.  We just want everyone to be aware of the timing.  For any questions, please contact Jim Marcotte at

The 8th grade End-of-Year Dance/Celebration is this Friday! Tickets are now on sale in homerooms until June 12.  Tickets are $5 and will not be sold at the door.  Please know that only current RJ Grey 8th grade students are allowed to attend, and students must have been at school that day to attend the event - if there are any unique circumstances, send me an email and we can figure it out.  For any other questions, contact Kate Murray at 

Last year, members of the high school volleyball coaching staff and current varsity athletes offered a series of volleyball clinics for RJ Grey students interested in the sport.  They are offering the opportunity again this year to learn the basics of volleyball and enjoy some opportunities to play.  No experience is necessary.  The first session is today, June 9 from 2:45 to 4:15 in the gym, and will also take place on Wednesday, June 11 and Monday, June 16 (also from 2:45 to 4:15). 

Textbook Obligations: this week teachers will begin collecting textbooks, library books, and other materials that need to be returned.  Students who still owe textbooks are provided a form that details what is still missing, and the potential replacement costs.  Students must meet their textbook obligations in order to attend the end-of-year field trips!  Please work with your children on locating textbooks that might be hidden under piles of laundry, and avoid replacement fees (some of which can reach $75 for a textbook). 

Yearbooks will be distributed on Monday afternoon to students who ordered a copy.  We do have a limited number of extra copies that can be ordered on a first come-first served basis.  Please contact Ms. Weeks at with any questions.  

If it wasn’t already circled and highlighted on your family calendars, the last day of school is Wednesday, June 18.  It is a half day that concludes with an all-school assembly at the high school auditorium. Please note that we aren’t able to invite parents to this assembly, and this event is for students and staff only.   Students will then be dismissed from the high school and will get on buses that are lined up outside the high school entrance at 10:45am, or they can be picked up by parents in the JH or HS parking lots. 

We had our last round of Everyday Leaders last week, bringing our total number of students recognized through this effort to a little over 60. Congratulations to Maya Murphy, Becky Wolf, Zach Olson, Maddie Steverman, Nethra Prassana, Jenn Benati, Jackson Parker, Lizette StaMaria, Nithyani Anandakugan, and Shayom Debopadhaya for their selection.  I’ve now eaten way too much pizza and committed to finding some alternatives for next year.  

As everyone prepares for the summer, I do hope that a year of daily Silent Reading has contributed to an increased interest in, and joy of, reading by our students, that will hopefully carry on into the summer months.  Interestingly, the topic of “Young Adult” literature received quite a bit of attention these past two weeks.  First, the film version of the popular book, “The Fault in Our Stars” opened, and that probably had something to do with an editorial that appeared online at chastising adults who choose to read novels that have been categorized as “Young Adult” fiction.  You can read that editorial by clicking here.  That editorial generated quite a bit of hoopla, and a number of passionate responses and rebuttals that took a closer look at some of the complexities found within the genre (as well as pointing out that the labeling of books as “Young Adult” is more marketing than anything else).  Here’s an article from the New Yorker about John Green, the author of The Fault in Our Stars, and also another article from the Wall Street Journal about the increasing presence of raw, heavier, and complex themes found in young adult literature (and the possible reasons and benefits of that trend). Finally, after I read the editorial reprimanding adults who read texts marketed towards children, I did wonder what the author would say about my lifelong love and admiration of the Calvin & Hobbes comic strip series whose author (Bill Watterston), by the way, made a surprise and secret return to the world of comics almost 20 years after he ended Calvin & Hobbes.  For those of you who are fellow admirers of the Calvin & Hobbes series, read about his recent collaboration with another comic strip artist in this recent Rolling Stone’s article.  Just some food for thought in case any of you were also thinking about your own summer reading plans and wondering if it should/could include titles such as Eleanor & Park, or the Divergent series.  

7 ½ days of school and one edition of Grey Matters left! 

Have a great week, everyone.