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Grey Matters, March 7, 2016; Volume 4, Number 25

posted Mar 6, 2016, 7:59 AM by Andrew Shen   [ updated Jun 24, 2016, 5:25 AM by James Marcotte ]

Hi Everyone,

I’m going to assume that at least a few of you share my enthusiasm for the start of the baseball season, and how the Red Sox preseason always serves as a bit of a tease that spring is right around the corner.  Of course, given the weather we’ve had the past few months, it really hasn’t felt like much of a winter.  Like many others in the area, my passion for the Red Sox also includes a healthy dislike for the Yankees.  However, I like to believe that I have enough brain power to know that my total disdain for the team from the Bronx is a bit illogical and in many ways a purely emotional response.  I suppose that’s why I can still acknowledge moments when our players and the fan base have been less than noble in its behavior.  In 2003, I had the good fortune of attending Game 3 of the American League Championship Series, only to be witness to the sheer chaos that ensued before, during and after Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez threw 72-year old Yankee coach Don Zimmer head-first to the ground during a benches-clearing brawl.  It was pretty surreal.  Things were a total mess for the remainder of the game, and seeing dozens of police officers clad in riot gear throughout Fenway Park definitely made me realize that perhaps our frenzy as fans might sometimes benefit from a little recalibration of priorities.  

So while I continue to hope that the Yankees have an 0-162 season, I can at least acknowledge moments when they deserve some positive attention and feedback.  That’s why I want to direct everyone to a story a few weeks ago about how the Yankees are experimenting with later start times for their Spring training practices, for the express purpose of encouraging players to get more sleep.  Check out an article about this switch, which has team practices starting at 11:30am, rather than the traditional 9am start times.  As I shared earlier this school year, the District has certainly been paying attention to the dialogue about the importance of sleep, and the role that school start times play in that dialogue.  The Superintendent’s Wellness Committee has been studying the issue, and are going to be sending out a brief survey to students (grades 7-12), staff and families later this week.  When you receive a link to the survey, I would encourage you to participate and share your thoughts.  Our friends in Newton have also been looking closely at possible changes to start times, and they recently completed a survey of high school students and published the results in their town’s local paper.  

Speaking of sports, the schedule is now set and posted for tryouts and sign ups for our Spring sports (Baseball, Softball, Volleyball and Track).  Please remember that all students must have a “Green Form” in order to participate, and can be downloaded on the Athletics page of our website.   There are still tryouts for baseball and softball, tryouts for the new girls volleyball program, and track continues to be a “no-cut sport.”  In other words, any student interested in participating is welcome to join.  For the last few years, we have averaged somewhere between 200 and 250 students participating in the track program, which is a sight to see (especially during the track meets).  

In terms of participation in the track program, we provided an option last year for students (and families) who are interested in the track program, but not prepared to commit to the full practice and meet schedule.  Not attending each practice or meet, as you can imagine, can create some challenges given the need to organize and schedule things like relays teams, practice plans, and logistics for away meets.  With this in mind, we are going to continue offering students the choice to sign up for one of two options: (1) students who can commit to at least three practices per week, including all home meets, should sign up for the Blue Team.  Please note that the two non-practice days for students on the Blue Team needs to be the same from week to week.  (2) Students who wish to travel to away meets (in addition to home meets) and be eligible for relay teams and field events can sign up for the Gold Team.  Gold Team members are expected to attend all practices and all meets, without exception (unless the student is sick and absent from school).  It is entirely up to the student (and his/her family) to choose the best option that makes the most sense for him or her.  Please note that the participation fee is the same for either option.  The first meeting for the Track team is on Monday, March 28th immediately after school in our auditorium.  Anyone who thinks they would like to participate should attend.  The above options will be explained to everyone so they can make an informed decision.  Remember that all important information about Spring sports can be found at our school’s Athletics page.  

Here’s a couple of other updates and reminders for everyone to keep in mind:

  • The Winter Trimester ends this Wednesday.  Report cards will likely be sent home with students on or around Friday, March 18th.  

  • Remember that 8th grade students will be meeting with representatives from the High School this Thursday to talk about transitioning to that big school down the hill from us.  This is one of a few different conversations students will be having about course selection and other questions they might have about next year.  

  • There is no school scheduled for Friday, March 25 because of Good Friday.  

  • The Nancy Frates community event is this Monday night at 7pm in the High School auditorium.  I hope to see many of you there.  

  • Annual MCAS state testing will begin this year on March 28th.  Next week, I will be sharing with families a more detailed schedule, along with some thoughts and reminders I like to share every year about our approach to these assessments.  

election (1).jpeg

Many of you may have heard that RJ Grey held its own mock primary elections last Tuesday, while many Acton residents visited our gym to cast real ballots for, among other things, the presidential candidates.  I will admit that I had a slight moment of panic when we read the results of our mock election over the loudspeaker and I realized that it could be heard in the gym.  I wondered if we could be accused of election tampering, since I am sure many in town were waiting with baited breath for the results of our exercise before finally deciding on who to support on their ballots.  Many thanks to Marc Lewis (7 Green Social Studies), Kellie Carter (8 Red Social Studies), and Louisa Latham (Library) for organizing an event that gave our students an opportunity to get some of the flavor of our country’s process for electing leaders. I hope your students came home having enjoyed the opportunity to participate in this once-every-four-years activity (though we’ll also do this next November for the election).  

We are now at the beginning of our 3rd annual “March Madness” event - at RJ Grey, instead of being about college basketball, it’s a “Battle of the Books”.  Our librarian, Louisa Latham, has again put together a bracket of popular young adult fiction titles, and students and staff have been encouraged to vote for their favorite titles, and in a few weeks one title will be crowned the winner.  Students are also encouraged to complete an entire bracket, which makes them eligible for a drawing where a few participants will be awarded an Orange Leaf gift card.  You can see a picture of the bracket board, and can learn more about the library by visiting the library website.  If you visit RJ Grey this month, be sure to check out the “Battle of the Books” bracket that is in the lobby (you can’t miss it), to see what books have made the next round.  

Finally, I had lunch with our latest round of Everyday Leaders last Thursday.  As I told the students, the lunch is really more a reward for me, since I get to change the rhythm of my day with a laid-back meal with a group of our awesome students.  Hopefully they didn’t mind breaking bread (in this case, pizza) with me that day and spending a little time in my office.  Congratulations to the following students who were part of this round’s Everyday Leaders group: Kyla Callison, Mary Crowley, Lyndon Hu, Nathan Cooperman, Eleanor Matz, Colman Connolly, Mia Lepardo, Lynn Alexandre, and Bryce Green.  

Have a great week, everyone.