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Grey Matters, December 22, 2014; Volume 3, Number 16

posted Dec 21, 2014, 6:12 AM by Andrew Shen   [ updated Jul 6, 2015, 6:55 AM by James Marcotte ]

Hi Everyone,

When we re-connect after the Winter Break, it will be 2015.  With the start of the new year comes a host of resolutions.  Mine will revolve around resisting all the cookies that I’ve recently been eating at breakneck speed. Lately, I’ve turned cookie-eating into an Olympic sport in which I would win the bronze, silver, and gold medals. I also think it might be appropriate at this time for me to wave the white flag in my competition with Glenn Brand over having the largest following on Twitter.  For most of the Fall we were pretty close in number, and then in November his Twitter account just left our account eating its dust.  Happy to graciously concede to the newcomer (who will also write my evaluation later this year) though I’ve made it  clear to Glenn that his ability to declare snow delays or cancellations gives him a decidedly unique advantage over the rest of us.  

It’s a fairly slow news week for Grey Matters (only two days of school before break), so it gives me the perfect opportunity to direct everyone’s undivided attention to a big event that will take place shortly after we return from Winter Break.  On January 15 at 7pm, Michelle Gielan will be in the High School auditorium speaking to the Acton-Boxborough community, and I strongly encourage you to make arrangements to attend (please). Michelle is a nationally renowned expert on the science of positive communication and the founder of the Institute for Applied Positive Research, as well as a former news anchor for CBS News. During this interactive presentation, Michelle will explore how each of us can broadcast happiness to inoculate our brain against stress and negativity, along with a host of other wellness-related topics.  

Some parents may recall that in previous years, we’ve hosted speakers such as Chris Herren and Kevin Breel to deliver various messages to students and families, and provoke some thinking and reflection on some of the challenges that we often face today as adolescents, and the parents of those adolescents.  We’re excited that Michelle Gielan is the next speaker in this sequence of community forums, and will offer insight (through a very different lens) about issues such as stress and developing a mindset that centers on optimism.  This presentation is geared towards students in grades 7 thru 12, parents/guardians and faculty, and is sponsored by RJ Grey, the High School, the ABPTSO, the United Way, and Danny’s Place.  The event is free (with a suggested $5 donation to support additional community forums). Check out the event flyer for more information.  

Now for some calendar-related notes, and reminders for when we return from Winter Break:

  • This Tuesday is a FULL DAY of school.  I’ve had a few inquiries about whether it might be a half-day (since it’s last day before break begins).  Nope.  Full day, dismissal at 2:06pm.  

  • ALERT: Tuesday is the LAST DAY to PURCHASE YEARBOOKS.  Students and families can continue to purchase online or by bringing in the paper form and a check to the main office, but Tuesday’s the last day.  Click here for details.  

  • Our last round of scheduled parent-teacher conferences is January 8 - the Thursday after we return from Break.  Students will again be dismissed at 10:40am, so please plan accordingly.  

  • There is also no school for students (for the entire District, PreK-12) on Friday, January 16.  This is a day where staff will be participating in professional development workshops.  Please note that this date abuts the Martin Luther King, Jr. long weekend, making for a 4-day weekend for students.  

  • Save the Date: The JH Winter Band Concert is the evening of January 14, and the JH Winter Chorus Concert is the evening of January 21.  

We have many students participating in the Ski Club when we return from the Break, 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 then everyone in the parking lot gets to watch them and me get tangled up in boots, poles, and helmets.  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.  

As I mention above, the Gielan event, along with other activities throughout the year, are only possible through the continued support and efforts of our supportive and hard-working PTSO.  This year, about 40% of families with students at RJ Grey and/or the High School have formally signed up to become members, and thank you for doing that!  For those who haven’t yet signed up, it’s not too late.  Perhaps the start of the school year was a bit too hectic to connect with the PTSO, I was in that boat with my own childrens’ school PTO group.  We now have a nice long, and relaxing Winter Break coming up - consider reaching out to the PTSO and joining.  For more information, visit their website at:

Happy holidays and happy new year, everyone.