Welcome and welcome back to RJ Grey. I hope everyone enjoyed their summer, and that you all found opportunities to use the time in a way that was satisfying, and included at least a little bit of laughter, good company and some lasting memories. Right after we ended school last June,this article (click here) about the value and benefits of "free play" in the summer appeared on The Atlantic's website. I suppose sending it at the beginning of this school year may make for awkward timing, but perhaps some food for thought for next summer - only 177 school days away.
From our vantage point, the school year has started off well, and we hope you received similar feedback from your sons and daughters. For those new to RJ Grey, please be assured that we dedicate the first few days to helping every student get acclimated to his/her surroundings, and we know that there's a lot to take in at the beginning. We had opening assemblies for both grades, and the 7th grade assembly included a short welcome video that we hope gave students a snapshot of what will be part of their school year. What I didn't include in the assembly as a point of comparison were these photos from the Boston Public Library archives that documents what school was like in the 1890s, but perhaps you may find interesting in terms of what has and hasn't changed. Beyond all of the logistical information that we've shared, our hope is that each student ended last week knowing how excited we are to be working with them and eager for what lies ahead for each of us this year.
There are some members of the administrative team that we should introduce to you. This year, Mr. Marcotte will be the Assistant Principal working primarily with our 7th grade teams, and will be joined by Ms. Dancause and Ms. McGowan, two of our counselors. Ms. McGowan is currently on maternity leave and Ms. Molly Morrow (who joined us at the end of last year), will be supporting 7 Gold and 7 Orange. Ms. Warren will be the Assistant Principal working with 8th grade teams, and she will be joined by our other two counselors, Ms O'Brien and Mr. Duclos.
Getting back briefly to some of the nuts and bolts that we covered last week, last Friday we had our first fire/evacuation drill of the year and it went extremely well. We will have three more fire drills this year, and later this month we will practice our emergency lockdown procedure for when there might be an unsafe situation in or around the school campus. For those of you who might be visiting RJ Grey during the day, please remember that visitors can only enter through the front door, and must sign in at the main office window. If and when you do visit us, you'll be greeted by Ms. Katy Frey, who has now assumed the role that was previously held by Ms. Decker and Ms. Bollier (who both retired at the end of last year).
Many you who have dropped off your children in the morning have probably encountered Mr. Marcotte and I directing traffic in the lower parking lot. If you need some clarification about where to enter, and when cars can leave campus from the exit nearest to Prospect Street, please review this document. For those whose children are taking the bus, we appreciate your patience as the Transportation office makes adjustments to the new routes that were developed for this year. While some of the morning traffic and bussing hiccups can feel like a nuisance, I was offered the opportunity to maintain some perspective on the severity of our woes when a friend sent me a link that had photos of 25 unusual and dangerous journeys to school that children around the world make to receive an education. If you've got a moment, check out these stunning photos.
Within the next week, our website will include a list of clubs and after school activities that are open for all students to join. In the meantime, I did want to highlight two new activities that are beginning very soon (one this week), and does involve a different sign-up process. First, RJ Grey is partnering with the Marcus Lewis Tennis Center to offer an after school tennis program for interested students this Fall. Please note that this club does involve a fee, and that space is limited due to available court space. Click here to view the flyer and directions for signing up - the program starts this week, but if there is space I am sure that students can still join.
Secondly, as part of our continued efforts in the area of wellness, we are excited to offer a Yoga Club on Tuesday afternoons from 2:30 to 3:30pm, which will take place in our small gym. The first set of meetings will begin on September 16th and run for 9 session through November 18th. The class will be taught by an instructor who has introduced yoga in several public schools, and has experience working with adolescents. For this first session, we can accommodate 28 students and so pre-registration (and a commitment to attend each session) is required. There is no fee to participate, and we have mats that students can borrow if needed. If your son/daughter is interested, he/she or you must email Kate Murray at email@example.com by Friday, September 12th, or have your child speak directly to Ms. Murray in the Main Office.
On the subject of after school options, our Library will again be available to students after school from 2:15pm until 4:30pm, and directly supervised by a staff member. Our hope is to create the feel of a "learning commons" where different types of independent and group work can take place, and students can access resources in a variety of ways. With this in mind, the Library should not be viewed as a space for socializing after school. We aren't requiring absolute silence, though we want an environment where chaos is kept at a minimum. If your child is not interested in the Library but needs to wait for a bit of time for a ride, we have expanded the number of couches and tables found in our Lobby, and students are welcome to congregate there. A reminder to families that they should work directly with their children on communicating their whereabouts after school has ended.
Finally, Back to School Night will be on Tuesday, September 23rd. On that evening, we ask parents to vote for two 7th grade parent/guardian representatives who will serve on this year's School Council. The School Council is comprised of 4 parents, two RJ Grey staff members, and yours truly. The role of the School Council is to review and discuss various aspects of the school's activities and goals, and offer advice and guidance about different topics that may emerge during the year. The Council meets once a month, usually on the first Tuesday of the month at 7pm. If you are a 7th grade parent interested in serving on the Council, please submit a short paragraph about yourself by noon on Friday, September 19th for the ballot. Write-ups can be sent to PTSO co-chair Tammy Sarnelli at firstname.lastname@example.org or to me at email@example.com.
Have a great week, everyone. Welcome back.