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Grey Matters, September 9, 2013; Vol 2, No. 2

posted Sep 8, 2013, 12:19 PM by Andrew Shen   [ updated Jun 26, 2014, 11:18 AM by James Marcotte ]

Hi Everyone,


Monday marks the first full week of school here at RJ Grey. I think it's good that we are getting into a normal rhythm here at school, though I also wouldn't object if our lives permanently included three-day weekends in between each full week. We can keep the 5-day school week, with three days in between. Just some wishful thinking from a tired dad whose calendar already has way too many entries that start with one of my three kids' names, and ends with the words "Practice", "Game" or "Lesson". While on the subject of calendars, for those who celebrated Rosh Hashonah last week, a happy new year to you.

As part of our "normal rhythm" this year, we have included a 20-minute silent reading period into our school schedule (9:58 to 10:20 every day), and we're excited about the opportunity for students and staff to take this time every day to change gears, and engage in some individual and self-directed reading. I'd encourage you to ask your kids about it, and see what they might have chosen to read this past week. If you'd like to know a little more about what is behind this new dimension of our school day, you can read this Silent Reading handout.

We are entering our second year of AB Schools. This is a significant aspect of our District's efforts to engage students and teachers in learning activities that utilize a digital platform. Each student has an AB Schools account that includes a suite of Google Apps for education. This past week, most if not all of our 7th grade students were introduced to their AB Schools accounts during their one of their math classes. At RJ Grey, we are excited for the role technology can play in amplifying the experiences that our students encounter in the classroom with their teachers. We have a few teachers, for example, who have been experimenting with the "flipped classroom" model - where they post videos of short lessons online as homework, and then use class time the following day to engage students in various problems and challenges based on that video lesson. Others are beginning to use Google Docs as a vehicle for students to create documents collaboratively, and for offering feedback on student work. If you'd like to learn a bit more about AB Schools at RJ Grey, click here.

Another reminder that Back to School Night will be on Wednesday, September 18th. For those of you with children who participate in the Band, Drama, or Chorus electives, there is an optional meeting from 6:30 to 6:45 where you can learn more about those programs. From 6:45 to 7:00, I will be in the auditorium to provide a very quick and casual welcome for any new (and returning) parents who may wish to put a face to the fellow who writes this newsletter every week. Your visits to classes then begins at 7:00pm and you'll follow a schedule that your kids bring home earlier that day. While I am sure every single RJ Grey student will remember to bring home that schedule for you, we also have copies of those schedules available in the lobby should you need one.

On that evening, we also ask parents to vote for two 7th grade parent/guardian representatives who will serve on this year's School Council. The School Council is comprised of 4 parents, two RJ Grey staff members, and yours truly. The role of the School Council is to review and discuss various aspects of the school's activities and goals, and offer advice and guidance about different topics that may emerge during the year. The Council meets once a month, usually on the first Tuesday of the month at 7pm. If you are a 7th grade parent interested in serving on the Council, please submit a short paragraph about yourself by noon on Friday, September 13th for the ballot. Write-ups can be sent to PTSO co-chair Tammy Sarnelli at or to me at

Please note that our annual school picture day is Friday, September 20. In the next week or so, we will be distributing picture order forms to all of the students. Regardless of whether families order photos, each child will have his/her photo taken so we can include them in the yearbook, and for their student ID cards. If you would like to order photos but the costs associated with the options would present a financial hardship, I would encourage you to contact Jim Marcotte at Each year, we have worked with our vendor to find ways for any family who wants a set of photos to receive one.

Finally, many of you might already be aware of the efforts to raise funds to replace the District's outdoor track facilities. A committee of community volunteers have led the AB Track Renovation project, and working hard to see this private-public effort come to fruition. With a target of $600,000, the group has raised almost $500,000, including $150,000 from the District's operating budget, and are now working on further community outreach to meet their goal. If you'd like to learn more about these efforts, please visit their Facebook page by clicking here.

Have a great week, everyone.