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Grey Matters, June 20, 2016; Volume 4, Number 39

posted Jun 19, 2016, 9:07 AM by Andrew Shen   [ updated Jun 24, 2016, 5:20 AM by James Marcotte ]

Hi Everyone,


Happy Father’s Day to those of you who celebrated the event this past weekend.  About a month ago, when discussing a bit of our family’s plans for Mother’s Day, I mentioned my hope that this year’s Father’s Day parade of endless gifts would include this outdoor pergola structure that I’ve been eyeing for some time now.  Apparently, my thinking that including one’s wishes in Grey Matters would lead to them actually coming true was a bit ambitious.  My relaxing under the pergola will have to wait another year.  Nevertheless, I am still grateful for the small miracle we experienced on Saturday night when we ventured out to a local restaurant and completed a full dinner without any of the three children putting their hands on each other.  During this dinner, Melisa and I also had a chance to discuss a recent email we received from one of our daughter’s teachers about the school’s music program.  Some of you may recall that earlier in the year, I shared that we had the pleasure of once again witnessing firsthand the 3rd grade curriculum’s inclusion of learning the recorder, with this year’s experience enhanced by Addison’s commitment to practicing Hot Cross Buns over and over, and over.  Well, what better additional gift could a father receive this weekend than to learn from that email that starting next year, the recorder will now also be an integral part of the 4th and 5th grade curriculum?!  I’m happy for my daughter, and we are sincerely appreciative of our childrens’ school’s attention to the arts.  And I’ll admit that both Melisa and I wept silently for a few moments.  

We had over 330 8th grade students join us last Friday night for our annual end-of-year celebration and dance.  Watching and interacting with them at these events always reminds us of how fortunate we are to have a school full of great kids. We were fortunate to have some really wonderful weather, and even more fortunate to once again have an army of volunteer parents take the lead on this event.  An event of this size is only possible because those parents and families are willing to contribute their time and energy, and to donate a mountain of food.  A big “Thank You” to everyone who helped make the evening a big success. And an extra thank you to parent coordinator Kristen Kina for choreographing the whole evening, soup to nuts, and doing it with such grace and good humor.  We hope your children came home having enjoyed the evening.  

The next few days are definitely focused on end-of-year activities such as the Variety Show, Yearbook signings, and the class field trips, and below are some details and reminders about the next three days.  Since it’s easy to start getting ready for the summer, and a bit harder to maintain focus, it was great to still see a lot of meaningful class activities that were taking place in school last week.  I had the opportunity to spend a bit of time with Mr. Thompson and one of his 8 Gold science classes, and they spent time outside with their Yolkswagons, student-designed vehicles that needed to protect their egg-passengers in a series of progressively more challenging crash tests (see photo to right).  Also, last Wednesday, 7th grade students had a chance to listen to meet Attorney General Maura Healey, who made a brief visit to RJ Grey, accepting an invitation to touch upon some of the themes and topics that students have explored as part of the social studies curriculum, particularly their study of our country’s constitution.  Many thanks to Mr. Lewis (7 Green) and to student Amy Burke, who introduced Maura Healey to the audience.    

We also continue to make improvements to the school, and if you visit the building in the next few days you might see the changes to the space right outside of the cafeteria.  With continued support from the PTSO, we now have a mixture of flexible seating for students to use in this space - both high cafe-style tables, as well as more traditional (lower) seating.  We anticipate that a few more of the lunch periods next year will involve use of this space, and we’re looking forward to continually finding ways to make different areas of the school warmer and more inviting to students and others who visit the building.  We’re pretty excited about this new space, and thinking of maybe painting the ceiling above these new tables a different and warmer color, but we’ve also got a summer to-do list about a mile long so we’ll see how far we get.  Many thanks to the PTSO for their continued support of our school.  

Here’s a final list of reminders and notes about this week, please make sure you follow up with your sons or daughters about anything that might pertain to you:

  • The Library will not be open after school this week.  As a side note, we only have a few more library books to collect, which is great.  Thank you to the students and families for remembering to return borrowed items.  

  • Class field trips are on Tuesday - rain or shine! The forecast right now looks “ok” with a little bit of rain to start the morning, but ending early.   7th graders heading to Kimball’s will be back for the regular 2:06 dismissal and bus routes.  8th graders heading to Canobie Lake will return around 3:45pm, and buses will offer an additional run of the routes between 4:00pm and 4:20pm.  Parents are also welcome to come and pick up their children.  

  • Students who ordered yearbooks will be receiving them on Monday!  There are a limited number of additional yearbooks that will be sold that day for $37.  Many thanks to Vicki Weeks (8 Green English) and her Yearbook Club crew for their hard work and efforts this year.  

  • The last day of school is Wednesday, and it is a half-day.  Our closing activity is an all-school assembly (students and staff only) that will take place in the High School auditorium.  Students will be dismissed at the end of the event, and can get on buses right outside the high school (at 10:45am).  Parents planning to pick their children up can still park in the Junior High parking lot.  

  • Report cards will be mailed home to families at the end of June.  If you haven’t seen anything in the mail by mid-July, send me an email and we can get you another copy.  Or, if your son/daughter pulled an “Andrew Shen”, you might want to check your washing machine to see if the report card is currently going through a second spin cycle.  

  • Families of current 7th grade students who are returning to RJ Grey next year (or if you are a family with a student joining us next year from the elementary schools), you’ll receive our summer mailing in early August.  If you are a current 7th grade family who is not planning to return to RJ Grey next year (moving, attending a private school, etc.), we would appreciate hearing from you, as that information will assist us with our scheduling work this summer.  

  • Next year, school starts for students for 7th and 9th graders on Wednesday, August 31. 8th grade students start the next day, Thursday, September 1.  Here is a link to next year’s school calendar.  

So this is the 39th and final edition of Grey Matters for the year.  I hope you will allow me to end with some words and thoughts that I put together at the conclusion of last year.  While I regret that my closing remarks aren’t entirely original and unique to this year, I am also grateful that the experiences and sentiments that I expressed last June continue to be applicable one year later, and with another school year coming to a close.  

Before we briefly part ways for the summer, I want to thank you, our parent community, for your continued support of our school. It does not escape me (or us) the degree to which parent involvement and investment changes the landscape of a school, more often than not for the better.  We know that parents have high expectations for the school, and that we also have high expectations for the parents.  This partnership is indeed what often leads to the great experiences that so many of our students have at RJ Grey.  To be sure, those high expectations also means that there will be moments where we aren’t in total agreement on some things.  However, I’ll always take passionate debate and occasional disagreements over apathy and disinterest, especially when it comes from a shared interest in how to help our students (your kids) develop into thoughtful and confident individuals.  We’ve enjoyed working with you this year, and we certainly hope the feeling is mutual.  

As I mentioned at the end of last year, the summer months away from school serve an important purposes for students, families, and teachers.  It’s an opportunity to decompress, pursue other interests, and re-charge.  Thinking about school 24/7 doesn’t benefit anyone, and we hope that everyone uses these next 8-10 weeks to expand their horizons, try some new things, and sometimes enjoy and treasure those moments where time feels like it moves more slowly while you’re doing absolutely nothing at all.  It is always remarkable to see the degree to which young people change and grow, even in these (too short) summer months, and we look forward to reuniting with our returning students, and welcoming our next 7th grade class to RJ Grey.  Like last summer, we too will decompress a bit, and spend time dreaming up ways to make next year a great one for our students.  

Have a great week, and a great summer, everyone.