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Grey Matters, October 27, 2014; Volume 3, Number 8

posted Oct 26, 2014, 12:19 PM by Andrew Shen   [ updated Jul 6, 2015, 6:58 AM by James Marcotte ]

Hi Everyone,

When it comes to artists (specifically musicians) spending time crossing over into other genres or creating unexpected partnerships (i.e. Elton John and Eminem), I consider myself to be part of the audience receptive to those efforts.  That comfort was tested this week when a friend sent me an article highlighting the release of Bette Midler’s latest album, which includes her remake of the R&B pop ballad “Waterfalls” by the 90s group TLC (featuring Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes).  I honestly thought the article was a satire from The Onion, only to learn that indeed, the Divine Miss M has released a cover of the 1995 hit that is undeniably a bit of a detour from songs like “The Rose” and “Wind Beneath My Wings” (which my friend Paul’s brother Ethan sang to Paul at his Bar Mitzvah in 1990, but that’s a whole other story for another day, and will probably require Paul’s permission to tell).  Anyway, it was something that brought a brief moment of laughter to my week, and  I hope each of you had a few of those moments last week as well. Now a few quick notes and reminders to please keep in mind…

First, students who ordered a school picture photo package will be getting them on Monday to bring home.  School picture re-takes are scheduled for Friday, November 7.  If your child ordered a photo package and you would like for him/her to re-take the photo, please have your child bring in the original package on that day (and to come dressed for the re-take!).  If your student missed Picture Day earlier this year, this is also the time for him or her to have a photo taken.  Even if you don’t have plans to order a photo package, it is important to have everyone’s photo taken so they will be included in this year’s yearbook.  Students will be called down throughout the day to participate in the re-takes.  If you have any specific questions about school photos, please contact Assistant Principal Jim Marcotte at

Secondly, many of you know that we collaborated this Fall with the Marcus Lewis Tennis Center to provide an after school tennis program on our campus.  By all accounts, the program was well-received and some families have asked about additional options for the remainder of the year.  My understanding is that there will be programs (instructional clinics and match play) made available at the Tennis Center’s main site, and plans to include transportation after school to the program. The program will take place during the months of November and December and if you would like more information about this opportunity (which, please note, is not organized by RJ Grey and is an independent program), you can call 978-264-8349, or visit their website by clicking here.  

Halloween is this Friday! A friendly reminder that students are welcome to dress up (or not dress up) in costume on this day.  As I mentioned last week, the Student Council is organizing a fun and light-hearted activity where costumes from each homeroom will be selected to compete head-to-head and impress the staff with their creativity.  One final request to please help your child keep in mind that they should still avoid including props that mimic weapons, and clothing that includes profanity and explicit language or images.  It’s a great tradition, and we all look forward to a fun and spirited day.  

We have reached the point in the year where some of our RJ Grey students and families are exploring private schools as options for next year, and I’d like to re-send the following note that I shared last year.  Our Counseling Office works with families on the application process, and they have created a number of documents and guides to assist families.  You can download information by going to the RJG Counseling site (click here).  One aspect of the application process that I’d like to highlight is the writing of teacher/counselor recommendations.  Our teachers and counselors are happy to support students in their applications, and take seriously the crafting of a recommendation.  With that in mind, we ask that families honor the request that teachers be approached about letters of recommendation at least 4 weeks in advance of when those letters are due.  In many situations, parents initially reach out to teachers on behalf of their child, which is perfectly fine.   If possible, it’s also helpful for the student to speak in person with their teachers about their interest in private schools.  This is valuable for a few reasons.  First, hearing a bit more about the student’s interest in the schools to which they are applying gives the teacher a better sense of what might be useful to include in the letter.  Secondly, having a teacher find recommendation forms on her desk without any prior explanation from a student or parent is never the ideal way to start the conversation about a recommendation. By no means are teachers and counselors expecting students to feel indebted to them for writing a letter, and forever genuflect whenever they enter the room. However, speaking directly to the teacher is, I think, central to showing an appropriate level of appreciation for this additional task the students are asking their teacher to complete on their behalf.  If you think your son/daughter may be a bit nervous with this task, you might encourage them to speak with his/her counselor, who can offer some tips and even help them practice.  Your child’s counselor is also, in general, a great resource for various aspects of the application process.  

Between yesterday and the start of school, I have now attended approximately 113 of my three kids’ soccer games and practices, and spent 30% of my waking hours in my travel chair that I’ve set up on the sidelines.  I went out to dinner last night with some friends including a couple whose kids are in the 7th thru 12th grade range, and from their experiences it sounds like the distance one travels and the time spent on the sidelines both get longer.  I mention this because I get the impression that many of you are in the same boat, and so may also, like me, be monitoring the continued research and dialogue around concussions.  After coming home from Hayden’s game yesterday, I came across this article/video on that looks at soccer specifically and some of the continued questions that emerge as we all try and better understand and protect our kids, while at the same time encouraging them to participate in activities that can be so rewarding in terms of not only the physical benefits, but also from being part of a team with his/her peers.  I share this particular article not because I am trying to advocate for a particular viewpoint on the debates that have emerged, but as a segue to mentioning and highlighting our school’s own awareness of the impact that a concussion can have on a student’s body and mind, and how we support him/her during the recovery period.  One of the documents we included on our website, along with other start of year documents, was a brief overview of our approach to concussions.   It’s something that we take seriously, and have some protocols in place to make sure that we are working closely and effectively with families to develop a plan that makes sense.  If you do ever find yourself needing to address a concussion-related situation, please contact our nurse (Erin Livie, and your child’s counselor, and they can lead you through next steps.  

Finally, our most recent installment of Poetry Fridays was at the end of last week.  Mr. Malloy decided to pull out the fairly well known piece, “The Road Not Taken” by Mr. Robert Frost, which hopefully provided some nice food for thought and reflection at the start of the day.  

Have a great week, everyone.