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Grey Matters, January 25, 2016; Volume 4, Number 20

posted Jan 24, 2016, 12:54 PM by Andrew Shen   [ updated Jun 24, 2016, 5:27 AM by James Marcotte ]

Hi Everyone,

I have a colleague at RJ Grey who is a big fan of the winter season, and has been patiently waiting for us to get a healthy dose (8+ inches) of snow.  Me?  I have, on occasion, mentioned to my wife that San Francisco would be a lovely place to live.  I’ve been saving up my pennies and nickels in case she caves. I figure if I squirrel some money away over the next ten years, we might eventually be able to afford a one-car garage in the

Bay Area.  Let’s be clear, I don’t mean a house with a one-car garage. Given real estate prices in and around San Francisco, I mean just the garage itself.  Both Melisa and I were born and raised within the Rt. 128 corridor, so the likelihood of us going anywhere is between slim and none, but I have definitely become a lot less enamored with snowstorms.  That’s why I feel extremely fortunate that this past weekend’s Snowzilla storm that covered the mid-Atlantic states stayed mostly south of us (save for some parts of southern Massachusetts).  Seeing pictures this morning like the one to the right from the Washington Post gave me flashbacks from last year, and reminded me of how so many of last year’s editions of Grey Matters were littered with notes and updates about adjusted schedules, postponed conferences, canceled events, and comparing miserable stories about roof damage caused by massive ice dams.  For the sake of our skiers and snowboarders, I am glad we’ve been getting 2-3 inches here and there.  I can manage that rate of snowfall, and keeping my eyes on the prize - and in this case the prize is having the last day of school stay at June 20.

Updates, reminders, and some acknowledgements for this week:  

  • Spots for the new Cooking Club have been filled, and with quite a waist list as well.  We definitely wish we could include more this time around, but it’s important to maintain a low(er) student to adult ratio given that they are working in the kitchen.  As I noted last week, we’ll learn from this first round of cooking activities, and then find ways to offer additional opportunities to students who couldn’t participate this time around.  

  • Interim reports for this current Winter Trimester were sent via US Postal mail last Friday.  If your child received one or more from his/her teachers, it’s likely that it arrived with Saturday’s mail, or at latest in this afternoon’s (Monday) mail.  If you have any questions about those interims, please start a dialogue with your child’s teacher.  

  • Math mid-year exams are this week!  I recently visited a math class on 8 Green and students were helping each other review some of the materials that will be on the exam.  Given what you all know about how I did in math during my own middle school career, parents of students on 8 Green may be wondering if I tried to provide any guidance, and whether that guidance was actually helpful (I think it was…).

  • Many thanks to those involved with organizing and supervising last Friday’s Summer Fun in Winter event!  We had a lot of students attend the event, and many seemed to enjoy themselves.  Ms. Ahl and the Student Council officers put a great deal of work into the preparations, and thanks also to the many parents who donated food, and to parents Tina Connors and Kristen Kina for their day-of event coordination efforts as well.  

While I know it’s somewhat unrealistic to expect that we won’t have at least one snow day this year, I am definitely trying to cut a deal with Mother Nature to avoid any disruptive weather for the first week of February.  That’s because I need to make sure Dr. Abigail Baird can safely drive from Vassar (in New York) to Acton for her presentation to our community on Wednesday, February 3.  If you haven’t circled it on your calendar, it’s at 7pm in the RJ Grey auditorium.  To give you another preview of Dr. Baird’s work, here’s a 2012 article in the Washington Post that she co-authored about the importance of sleep for adolescents, and drawing some links between the issue of sleep deprivation and a culture of expectations that often “celebrates pushing ourselves and our children to the limits.”  Along with the culture of expectations, the discussion about school start times has also gained quite a bit of momentum both locally and across the country.  As many of you know, our District has a group of staff and community members currently gathering some data about the issue of sleep and school, and I am looking forward to hearing some of what they’ve learned. Our friends in nearby Newton have also been examining this issue, and their work was highlighted in a fairly detailed story in Saturday’s Boston Globe.  While it sounds like they may entertain a change for as early as this September, the article also noted that any changes could come at a cost upwards of $1 million to address additional transportation needs.  Definitely keeping my eye on what unfolds in Newton to see if it offers us some guidance on our work.  

There’s another speaker coming to our community this Spring, and that I hope you will consider attending.  On March 7, Nancy Frates will be speaking in the High School auditorium at 7pm (click here for announcement).  Nancy Frates’ son Peter is the inspiration behind the Ice Bucket Challenge that captivated the nation last year, and the Frates family has continued to be active in the effort to promote awareness about ALS and raise money to support research that will increase understanding about the disease.  As the announcement notes, this is a talk that uses the story of the Frates family to highlight themes of resilience and resourcefulness.  Sponsored by the ABPTSO, Danny’s Place Youth Services, and the AB United Way, this event is free to the public, and donations will benefit the ALS Association.  And yes, a Principal that you know may be getting ice cold water dumped on his head during the event.  

I came across an article this weekend that I think is worth sharing with many families in our community.  Before I do, let me first acknowledge that 30 minutes ago, I dropped Parker off to a soccer clinic, and Melisa is currently at the gym in our local middle school watching Addison play basketball, so please know that I am part of the intended audience for this article.  Titled, Regrets? Specialization is one for many NCAA athletes” this article summarizes the results of an NCAA survey that was administered to 28,000 college athletes as part of a larger study.  In that study, many college athletes indicate regret that they specialized in sports so young, and “believe they played in too many games as kids and have unrealistic professional expectations.”  Many of them also wish they had tried other sports when they were younger, and reading some of that feedback certainly gives me pause, and has me thinking about the unintended consequences that have emerged from the intensity that seems to often dominate youth sports today.  Something for many of us to continue chewing on.

We had our latest round of Everyday Leaders take place last week. Almost every waking hour last week was spent preparing for our annual Budget Saturday presentation, so having lunch with this group of students was a welcome distraction for me (hopefully it was fun for them too).  Congratulations to this group of Everyday Leaders: Alex Pearo, Ashay Jain, Olivia Bispham, Lindsay Ristaino, Jolie Liu, Nassra Mgeni, Sam Newcombe, Nick Pucillo, Korey Sudana, Antara Pal, and Alex Trujillo.

Finally, we had our latest installment of Poetry Fridays at the end of last week, and it had a bit of an interesting twist.  Friday morning’s poem was from Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, widely regarded as the greatest Latin American poet.  As Mr. Malloy noted in his introduction, one of Neruda’s poetry books is composed entirely of questions, and that they beauty of the questions is that they are unanswerable.  Friday’s poem was comprised of excerpts from this book and because Neruda wrote his poems in Spanish, Ms. Mateos-Powell, Spanish teacher on 8 Green, read the original Spanish lines, and then Mr. Malloy read the English translations.  Click here to read the excerpts.  

Have a great week, everyone.