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Grey Matters, January 18, 2016; Volume 4, Number 19

posted Jan 18, 2016, 2:37 PM by Andrew Shen   [ updated Jun 24, 2016, 5:28 AM by James Marcotte ]

Hi Everyone,

I’ve been fortunate this year to avoid getting felled by whatever illnesses have been working their way through our school community.  Until last week. I missed two days of school last week, choosing to stay home and rest, and avoid (re)spreading germs to those around me.  For those who noticed my absence during the morning drop-off in the parking lot, perhaps there was just a brief moment where you wondered if my absence was not due to illness, but because I had bought a winning Powerball ticket, and was busy figuring out how to claim the prize with as little fanfare and publicity as possible.  If you followed the news last week, you already know I was not one of the three winners of the $1.5 billion jackpot, which means I won’t be able to follow through with my plan of paying for the future college tuitions of each of your children currently attending RJ Grey.  I did win four dollars by having the “power number”, so I can trick myself into believing that I really might win next time (and ignore the fact that I didn’t really “win” any money, but just got back a portion of what I spent on the tickets).  During all this Powerball mayhem, I did come across an article in The Atlantic about the lottery that took a slightly different look at the situation - what would happen if you could (and did) buy all 292 million possible Powerball combinations.  So my absence last week was due to a much less exciting reason, and I’ll see many of you in the parking lot during tomorrow morning’s drop-off. Speaking of morning drop-off, with the snow that we (finally) got this past weekend, please know that the lanes in the parking lot are probably a little narrower and the sight lines a bit obstructed by snow banks, so please continue to be mindful of the students and cars that are criss-crossing in the area.  

Here are a few reminders (including some repeats) for upcoming events and deadlines:

  • The Winter Chorus Concert is this Wednesday, January 20th at 7pm in the RJ Grey Dragonfly auditorium.  

  • Another reminder that during the week of January 25, students in both grades will be taking a math mid-year assessment that includes materials from the first half of the year.  Rest assured that our math teachers are working with students to prepare, and are providing them review materials, and opportunities to connect during extra help sessions.  

  • Remember that Dr. Abby Baird is coming to town, Wednesday, February 3 at 7pm in the RJ Grey auditorium.  I was doing some additional digging this weekend on her research, and came across this article in New York Magazine, where Dr. Baird was interviewed on the idea of adolescence serving as a “second toddlerhood”.  

  • The next scheduled early release is the day after Dr. Baird’s visit, Thursday, February 4, for staff professional learning (Dr. Baird is going to meet with staff from the Junior High and High School).  

The R.J. Grey Junior High yearbook is offering you the chance to send your love, pride and congratulations to the graduating 8th grade R.J. Grey student in your life.  You can purchase one of two advertisement formats to relay a message that your 8th grade student will cherish. Please click the link for more information.  You can also contact Vicki Weeks ( with additional questions.  

There is a new club coming to RJ Grey.  Ms. Rimpas (Health teacher) and Kirsten Nelson (Food Services Director) are piloting a Kids Iron Chef Cooking Club.  As a pilot, there are four meetings scheduled in February and early March, where students will explore a variety of basic cooking techniques.  We’re hoping to learn a bit more about how best to offer a student club focused on this activity, and potentially offer a more established program in the future.  I don’t know if we’ll reach the point of mimicking the grandiosity of the Food Network’s original Iron Chef America (photo to the left is from the episode, “Iron Chef: Cream Cheese”), but we think there’s some potential here.  This club is limited to the first 15 students who fill out and submit the registration form to Ms. Rimpas by January 26.  There is no fee for this club.  Click here to download a copy of the flyer/registration form, and feel free to email Ms. Rimpas ( if you have any questions.  If the spots for this club fill up, or if your child is not wild about this club, please remember that students can join any of our clubs (that don’t have size limits, like Fit Club) at any time during the school year.  Click here for a list of the clubs that are being offered this year.  

By the end of this week, or early next week at latest, mid-trimester interims for the Winter Trimester will have been sent to students’ homes (via US Postal mail). As a  reminder, “Interims” is the term that we use for what others might call “progress reports”, or “warnings” and are not necessarily sent to every student.  If you do receive one, please read the comments carefully and consider using it as a way to begin a dialogue with your child.  If there is information that you would like clarified, please contact the teacher and begin a dialogue with him or her.  The Winter Trimester does not close until early March, so there is plenty of time for students to use this feedback to make adjustments.  

An important Save The Date message to 8th grade families regarding the transition to the high school: On Thursday, February 11th at 7pm the high school will be hosting an evening for the parents of 8th graders. The goal of the evening is for parents to get an overall feel for the high school - including the class offerings available to ninth grade students. The night will begin in the high school auditorium with a welcome by principal Dr. JoAnn Campbell followed by a brief presentation by each department leader focusing on the classes available to ninth grade students. Immediately following the presentation parents may join department leaders in the East Commons where they will be available to answer questions.

"Life's most persistent and urgent question: what are you doing for others?"

-- Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Finally, on the day we devote to the memory and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, it seems more than appropriate that we highlight the importance and value of community service, and how it is encouraged and recognized within our District.  I want to make sure that our 8th grade students and families know that in the second half of their 8th grade year, students can record community service activities and hours that can be counted towards the High School’s “Accept the Challenge” program, which recognizes students for their commitment to, and engagement in, community service. Since the High School program asks students to log hours within a given calendar year (i.e. January 1 to December 31), current 8th grade students can begin to record participation in activities that fall under the the program’s criteria, and have it contribute to their efforts when they move to the High School next Fall.  To learn more, you can visit the High School Community Service website, and also review some of their literature by clicking here.  

It’s our hope that later this Spring, we’ll be able to try out a smaller version of what the High School does, and provide some small but meaningful ways that we can encourage and celebrate the service activities that our students, in both grades, might be pursuing in and around our community.  Stay tuned for updates on that effort.  

Have a great week, everyone.