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Grey Matters, September 29, 2014; Volume 3, Number 4

posted Sep 28, 2014, 3:26 PM by Andrew Shen   [ updated Jul 6, 2015, 6:59 AM by James Marcotte ]

Hi Everyone,

As I mentioned in the last Grey Matters, my family closed our pool last week, which of course is what led to this past weekend's incredibly warm weather.  You're all welcome, and I hope you had an opportunity to enjoy it in some way.  Along with closing the pool, I fulfilled other tasks of the responsible homeowner, including scheduling the annual servicing of our septic tank.  As the gentleman from the septic company was explaining to me his assessment of our tank, and the three additional services that he would strongly recommend (and would triple the original cost of the visit), I thought to myself, "this is probably one aspect of home maintenance where people never argue and say they want to inspect the problem with their own two eyes."  The bill that I paid (while closing my eyes) did inspire me to spend the rest of the evening learning as much as I could about septic tanks and reading brochures such as this one.  

I hope those of you who attended last Tuesday's Back to School Night found the evening to be informative and valuable.  I was able to visit about a dozen classes, and it was nice to sit alongside many of you during the presentations.  Many of the teachers mentioned their course websites, and encouraged you to use them as one resource for more information.  You can access all of the course websites by visiting the 7th Grade Teacher page and the 8th Grade Teacher page of our RJ Grey site. While I was pleased with the number of parent names I remembered, I will admit that a few of you are not yet connected in my memory to a name, but to the model and make of the car you drive when dropping your kids off in the morning.  There is a chance I waved to you that night and thought, "hey, red Volvo station wagon!" or "you're taller when not sitting in the silver Acura."  

A "thank you" to the many parents who voted for our two new School Council representatives.  This year, Joanne Wu and Sarah Webber will be joining the School Council, alongside 8th grade parents Lauren Gilman and Lesley Ochlis.  We appreciate all of the candidates' willingness to put themselves out there on the ballot, so an additional nod of thanks to not only Joanne and Sarah, but also and especially to Lisa Foley and Lori Fassman.  

A friendly and important reminder that we have an early release scheduled for this Thursday, October 2.  School will start at the normal time (homeroom at 7:30am) and we will dismiss students at 10:40am.  Regular bus routes will run at that time or parents should discuss with their child other options for post-dismissal plans.  Once students have left, the staff will be participating in a variety of professional learning activities and workshops.  Please note that there will be no sports practices that afternoon.  

Another calendar note specifically for 8th grade families.  Minuteman Technical High School will be making their annual visit to RJ Grey on October 7th and 8th to deliver a short presentation about their curriculum, and answering questions from any students who might have an interest in visiting and applying to the school.  If you'd like to learn more about their program, you can visit their website at, and view their admissions and application material by clicking here.  

Starting last year, we have included a 20-minute silent reading period into our school schedule (9:58 to 10:20 every day), and we've felt very good about the benefit that has come from giving students and staff the 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 so far. If you'd like to know a little more about what is behind this aspect of our school day, you can read this Silent Reading handout. Last year, I also posted in a Grey Matters a link to a then recent study that offers some additional benefits of our silent reading efforts.  That study found that "after reading literary fiction, as opposed to popular fiction or serious nonfiction, people performed better on tests measuring empathy, social perception and emotional intelligence."  If you're interested in reading more about the study and its results, you can click here.

With a similar goal (to silent reading) of feeding the mind and soul, we had our latest installment of Poetry Fridays at the end of last week.  This week's poem was read by Mr. Malloy and is entitled, "After Work" by Richard Jones.  The speaker of the poem observes a street scene in Manhattan at rush hour, including an observation of a father and daughter.  You can read the poem by clicking here.  

Finally, two small items from the digital media world that I thought I'd pass along, if for no other reason than they caught my eye and I wanted to share.  First, as a parent who is still heavily in the throes of telling his kids not to play with their food and waiting for the day that utensils are used regularly, here is a link to artist Red Hongyi's site where she has posted photos from her 31 Day of Food Creativity project.  Secondly, last Thursday was the 27th anniversary of the release of the classic film The Princess Bride, one of those movies that seems to have a broad fan base (or at least that's what I tell myself to justify my own connection with it).  In honor of that anniversary, here is a video of an interview last year with actor Mandy Patinkin (who played Inigo Montoya), talking about the line that he loves most from the film, and that he only discovered after watching the film 20 years after it was released.  Check it out if you've got a minute.  

Have a great week, everyone.