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Grey Matters, October 20, 2014; Volume 3, Number 7

posted Oct 19, 2014, 12:13 PM by Andrew Shen   [ updated Jul 6, 2015, 6:59 AM by James Marcotte ]

Hi Everyone,

I woke up this morning to an article in the New York Times that summarizes a study that looked at whether (and why) women might be better decision makers than men. I already had plans to also highlight two items from last week, and by chance they happen to resonate with my wife having attended Boston College and being the captain of the women’s crew team back in the day.  So while not the original intent, here is a nod to the more reasonable decision-maker in our household: first, for other rowers in the AB community, I hope you had the chance to attend this year’s Head of the Charles regatta which took place this past weekend.  And secondly, many of you might have already come across a video produced by current Boston College students that stars their classmates, teachers, and other campus staff dancing to Taylor Swift’s hit song, “Shake it Off.”  The video has gone somewhat viral because Taylor Swift herself made mention of the video on her Twitter feed. As Glenn Brand and I battle it out to see who can be first to get to 200 followers (we’re at 190!), Ms. Swift is sending shout out tweets that reach her 45.4 million followers - that’s roughly the equivalent of New York’s and Texas’ entire populations combined.  

Last week’s weather was so nice that on one morning, I actually directed morning traffic without a jacket.  For those who do drop their children off in the morning, thank you for your continued patience and adherence to the guidelines and protocols that we have established.  I know that the backup can sometimes feel like a nuisance, and we are trying our best to make sure kids get to school safely.  As many of you know, once the buses have left campus (usually at around 7:20), it is fine for cars to enter the campus from the entrance closest to Prospect Street (towards the back of the gym).  If you do this, please (please!) drive your children to the front entrance, and use the front circle to drop them off.  We’ve noticed that more cars are stopping next to the fields across from the gym and having kids cross the street (and then pulling u-turns).  I make mention of this not to scold anyone, but to point out that the entrance is 50 yards away and makes for a much safer drop off location for your kids.

Another quick note about pick-ups and drop offs.  We have a few more weeks of the Fall sports season. We hope students and families participating in those programs have had a positive experience.  Please make an effort to pick students up at the stated end time of practices and make arrangements for your children to have rides after games.  We ask our coaches to stay with members of the team until everyone is picked up, and so your efforts to be as timely as possible is much appreciated (especially as it gets darker sooner).    

If your kids are like my kids, they are already deep into the planning of their costumes for Halloween.  We have a tradition at RJ Grey where students (and teachers) come to school dressed up in costumes on the day of Halloween.  This year, our Student Council officers are working to include an additional layer to the day by organizing (with the assistance of the staff) a fun and light-hearted costume contest as another way to celebrate many of the costumes that are part of this tradition.  Each homeroom will nominate a student/costume to represent their room and the staff will vote for a winner by the end of the day.  Please note that I want to emphasize our intention to keep this light-hearted and good-natured, and to showcase the creativity that students exhibit on this day. We do not want anyone to invest significant time or money, and to come as they might have already planned (and indeed not all students and staff -including yours truly-always dress up, which is perfectly fine).  Like previous years, the main emphasis will continue to be on celebrating everyone’s costumes.  

As for costume guidelines, we are, to be sure, more flexible with our expectations regarding appropriate dress (i.e. the student coming dressed in a full lobster costume, for example).  During their planning, please help your child keep in mind that we must still avoid including props that mimic weapons (swords, firearms, knives, etc.), and clothing that includes profanity and/or might be overly revealing or minimalist in nature.  It’s a great tradition, and we all look forward to a fun and spirited day.  

Last Thursday, we had our first session of RJ Grey Discussion Groups, which introduced our ongoing goals of having conversations with students about healthy communication, problem solving, and conflict resolution.   As many of you know, Massachusetts passed a comprehensive law in 2010 to address incidents of bullying and harassment in schools.  Among other aspects of the law, it called for every school to implement a research-based curriculum that addressed bullying prevention and pro-social behavior. In previous years, we had utilized a variety of programs and workshops, including Second Step, as part of our efforts in this area.  This year, we are trying something a bit different (though with similar goals) and incorporating a curriculum created by the Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center (MARC), an organization based at Bridgewater State that has been heavily involved in the state’s recent efforts to address bullying and harassment in school.  We’re optimistic that we can use these discussion groups to encourage some dialogue that students will find relevant and applicable to their lives.  

Similar to previous years, we will continue to host two special events for our students as part of our overall efforts in this area.  ImprovBoston, one of the region’s leading improvisational theaters, will be interacting with our 8th grade students, as they bring to us a unique workshop that addresses issues of bullying, and the importance of developing healthy peer relationships.  Their presentation is actually taking place on Wednesday, October 29th, and we look forward to welcoming them back to RJ Grey. Using various improvisational techniques, and a healthy dose of humor, this troupe of actors looks to discuss the issue of bullying and model ways of defusing potentially difficult situations.  

For 7th grade students, we have again scheduled a great presentation by MARC specifically on cyberbullying and internet safety. Every time the media highlights Donald Trump’s efforts through social media to call every single person in the world a “loser” and push it out as legitimate news, it’s a healthy reminder that the rest of us have our work cut out for us in offering models of healthier social behavior (online and off).  The presentation by MARC will take place during the day for students on Monday, December 15th, and this year we have worked with MARC to also offer a parent/guardian workshop for later that evening (6:30pm in our school library).  A few weeks before the workshop, I’ll send out more reminders about this workshop and share some thoughts for why we think this is a topic worth exploring a bit more in depth, and why attending may be helpful for many of you.  So stay tuned for that.  

Finally, as I mentioned last week, Melisa and I were able to get away on our own over the Columbus Day weekend.  While we were gone, my parents took our three kids on their annual apple picking with the grandchildren adventure.  During their time at the orchard, they tried to get in line to purchase some apple cider donuts, only to discover that there was a two hour wait.  As my dad explained, a gentleman took advantage of this situation, and once he was able to purchase a certain quantity of apple cider donuts, set up “shop” a few feet away and was re-selling the donuts at a 30% markup.  I know we should celebrate entrepreneurism and seizing the moment, but really? So they skipped the donuts and while this was again a great bonding experience for our kids and my parents, it also (again) resulted in our house having no fewer than seven to eight dozen apples, and not enough ideas for what to do with them (nor the appetite, quite frankly).  If any of you has the same dilemma (I am betting there are), here is this site and this site that may prove helpful to you in making sure those apples don’t go to waste.

Have a great week, everyone.