Grey Matters‎ > ‎Grey Matters 14-15‎ > ‎

Grey Matters, April 27, 2015; Volume 3, Number 31

posted Apr 26, 2015, 8:24 AM by Andrew Shen   [ updated Jul 6, 2015, 6:41 AM by James Marcotte ]

Hi Everyone,

Welcome back! I hope everyone had an April Break that was enjoyable and/or restful and/or filled with some adventure.  For those who did some traveling, you may have heard that the weather here at home was promising during the first weekend in terms of warmer temperatures, and then for the rest of the week it was fairly cool.  However, there isn’t any snow left in our yard, so we are happy campers.  One activity for the Shens that didn’t rely on  warmer weather was using our fire 

IMG_1866.JPGpit to make s’mores, which we did a few times this past week. To the left is a photo of Parker as he prepares to cook his (5th) marshmallow (next week’s Grey Matters will be focused on my many effective strategies for teaching moderation).  I took the photo to the left with the intention of using it for this newsletter, and I have to confess - I spent a good five minutes debating whether I should wrap Parker’s marshmallow with a

slice of bacon so that I could take a photo of that just to generate a reaction from the Grey Matters readership.  As you can see, I resisted the temptation, and we stuck to the traditional graham cracker, chocolate, and marshmallow combination.

For those who ran the Boston Marathon last week, or who went to the event to cheer on friends and family, I hope it was a great day for all of you.  In honor of those running, I ran a quarter-marathon that day (there’s no such thing, but describing it that way makes me feel accomplished), finishing 6.5 miles on a treadmill, in a temperature-controlled gym, while watching a television show.  So clearly, my struggle to weather the elements was almost identical to those who trekked up Heartbreak Hill.  Of course, given how many marshmallows I ate over break, I probably would have benefited from running a bit more than I did.  Ok, on to some news and notes for the next few weeks…..

This week is a busy one in terms of our engagement with current 6th grade families whose children plan to join us at RJ Grey in September.  We have our Curriculum Night scheduled for this Wednesday evening, and then we have two days of tours that we offer to parents and guardians on Thursday and Friday; and then on Monday, the PTSO is hosting an event where families can engage directly with current parents to discuss the transition process and the strategies, advice, and reassurances that our parents are most equipped to offer to incoming families.  If you have friends and/or neighbors who are joining the RJ Grey community for the first time this Fall, please encourage them to attend some of these programs, as we look forward to welcoming them (and their children) to our school.  

Our Spring athletic programs (baseball, softball, track) will hopefully have some warm weather, and dry fields when we return to school this week.  For those with children on one of the teams, please know that we’ll share weather-related news about games and practice during our afternoon announcements, and also post it on our Twitter feed.  Mr. Maver, our baseball coach (and PE teacher), has challenged invited me to visit the team and throw some pitches during a round of batting practice.  I did this a few years ago, and 85% of my pitches were low and away, because I couldn’t get out of my mind what the following day’s news headlines would be if I (accidentally) beaned one of our students.  I may take Mr. Maver up on his offer, but those of you with kids on the team shouldn’t be surprised if they come home wondering why Mr. Shen couldn’t get most of his pitches over the plate.  

A friendly reminder for families whose children participate in our Band or Chorus programs.  The Spring concerts are coming upon us.  The Band’s Spring concert is scheduled for Tuesday, May 12 at 7pm, and the Chorus’ Spring concert is scheduled for Tuesday, May 19 at 7pm.  Please stay tuned for updates from your kids and/or Mr. Hickey (band) or Mr. Charig (chorus) about details for those evening festivities.  

For 8th grade families, a very brief “save the date” for the annual End-of-Year Celebration for 8th grade students.  It will be held the evening of Friday, June 19th, so mark it on your calendars.  In next week’s Grey Matters, I’ll share a bit more about the event, and also the role that families play in making it a great event to finish off the year (and one’s time at RJ Grey).  

Our next (and final) round of MCAS testing starts next week.  Here’s the schedule:

Monday, May 4

7th grade Math MCAS, part I

Tuesday, May 5

7th grade Math MCAS, part II

Wednesday, May 6

8th grade Math MCAS, part I

Thursday, May 7

8th grade Math MCAS, part II

Friday, May 8

8th grade Science MCAS

Similar to the first round, we begin MCAS testing about 15 minutes after homeroom so we can provide some time to make sure that all students have a chance to settle down and have the chance to eat something.  If you have time at home, please think about making sure your child has a good breakfast before leaving.  If you don’t have time, please feel free to send your child in with some food that they can eat during that brief period before testing begins. We will again be providing each room with enough food (juice boxes, breakfast bars) for students who didn’t have the opportunity to eat at home, or able to bring something on their own. If your child misses any of the above testing days, we will contact them about the make-up days that are scheduled for the following week.  If you have any questions about the testing period, please contact Jim Marcotte at

The week prior to the April Break, I met with our fifth group of Everyday Leaders, who joined me for some pizza and conversation, as the students caught me up on how the school year has gone, and some ideas I should entertain for next year.  Congratulations to the following students whose teachers included them in this cohort of Everyday Leaders: Alisha Purakayastha, Lisa Zhou, Sam de la Cruz, Jesse Benn, Nick Carmosino, Drew Murray, Drew Dalaklis, Clare Simpson, Arjun Jain, and Kirtana Krishnakumar.  

Finally, one last reminder for our 7th grade families about  our plans next year to offer a school trip to Washington, DC during the April Break.  Up to 150 students will be able to participate in this program, and we will first offer spots to our current 7th graders and then in September open remaining spaces to our newest class of students, as well as those who may not have signed up this Spring. If you are interested in learning more about this opportunity (financial cost, logistics, and programming) for your child, please considering attending an informational session at the junior high school this Thursday at 6pm in our auditorium.  This meeting will be led by Marc Lewis (7 Green Social Studies) and a representative from the Close Up organization (and I’ll be there too).  

Have a great week, everyone.  Welcome back.