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Grey Matters, December 21, 2015; Volume 4, Number 16

posted Dec 20, 2015, 11:45 AM by Andrew Shen   [ updated Jun 24, 2016, 5:29 AM by James Marcotte ]

Hi Everyone,

I am currently trying to write this edition of Grey Matters while watching The Empire Strikes Back with my son.  He just covered his eyes and told me not to look as Han Solo and Princess Leia shared their first kiss.  I’m hoping we can get through Episodes IV, V, and VI (and ignore I, II, and III) so we can watch the newest installment of Star Wars at some point over the Winter Break.  I would imagine many of you have also noticed the many ways (beyond the $250 million opening weekend at the boxoffice) that our country has demonstrated a bit of an obsession with R2D2 and friends, including Imperial Storm Troopers flanking the White House Press Secretary at a recent press conference.

A few notes and reminders for this week, and for the week that we return from Winter Break:

  • We have school this week through Wednesday, and Wednesday will be a full day of school.  If your child will be absent any time this week, please remember to leave a message with Katy Frey (  

  • The third and final installment of parent-teacher conferences is scheduled for Thursday, January 7 from 11:30 to 2:30pm.  That means we will have another early release day for students, with dismissal taking place at 10:40am.  

  • The Winter Band Concert is scheduled for Tuesday, January 12 at 7pm, and the Winter Chorus Concert is scheduled for Wednesday, January 29 at 7pm, both at the Junior High’s Dragonfly Theatre.  

Many thanks to the parents who contributed to last Thursday’s PTSO luncheon for the RJ Grey staff.  This is always a much-anticipated event for those of us who work at RJ Grey, and usually sends me on a tailspin when it comes to any commitment I might have towards eating in moderation.  This year, it was the cranberry and white chocolate biscotti that did me in.  Very grateful for the work that Torri Horovitz and Jen Aufiero put towards the organization and coordination of the luncheon, and all of the volunteers who contributed food and/or time on that day.  

Earlier this year, I mentioned that 7th grade students will again participate in an annual presentation by Meghan McCoy, from the Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center (MARC) about cyberbullying and engaging them in a discussion about the benefits and risks of maintaining a social media presence.  This presentation is scheduled for later today, and we’re looking forward to welcoming Meghan back to RJ Grey, who has worked with our school for several years, and is very familiar with our student audience.  

There are two community presentations that are scheduled for after the Winter Break, and  that I want to encourage everyone to put on their calendars (please).  The first is an evening with David McCullough, Jr., who will speak at the High School on the evening of January 7 (click here for PDF of the flyer).  Sponsored by the ABRPTSO, ABUW and Danny’s Place Youth Services, Mr. McCullough’s talk will be based on his recent book You Are Not Special and Other Encouragements, which is based upon his commencement speech at Wellesley High in 2012.  His message resonates with the need to alleviate some of the stresses that permeate the teenage experience, and we are looking forward to the opportunity for students and families to engage with him in January.  

The other event that I hope you’ll “save the date” for is scheduled for Wednesday, February 3 at 7pm.  That evening, we will be welcoming Dr. Abigail Baird to Acton-Boxborough. Dr. Baird teaches at Vassar and conducts research on adolescent brain development. I learned about Dr. Baird’s work a few years ago when a friend of mine sent me a video clip of an interview that she did with Lisa Kudrow of “Friends” fame (and a Vassar alum), as part of a Vassar alumni event.  They spend time talking about adolescent brain development, the interplay between emotions and decision making, and a whole host of other really interesting topics.  I shared information about Dr. Baird last year because she was speaking in Lincoln as part of their PTO’s speaker series.  I had the opportunity to attend that event, and was impressed with Dr. Baird’s ability to offer insight into the development of the adolescent brain in a manner that was accessible to a diverse audience, and offered some insight into why teenagers do and say a wide range of things that we might sometimes find a bit…. bewildering. Dr. Baird will be speaking to Acton-Boxborough families on the evening of Wednesday, February 3, and then speaking to the Junior High and High School staff the following day (we have an early release scheduled).  If you aren’t busy that evening, I really want to encourage you to attend (click here for the flyer).  I’m a big fan of Dr. Baird’s work, and feel confident that those who attend will benefit from the experience.  

Finally, I want to wish everyone a wonderful Winter Break.  Remember that there will be no homework assigned to students for over this period of time. Please encourage your child to disconnect from school for the duration of the vacation, and focus his/her energies and time on other interests.  For those who are hoping to do a little skiing and snowboarding, I am keeping my fingers crossed for some colder weather and maybe even a little snow.  

Have a great (shortened) week, everyone.