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Grey Matters, May 2, 2016; Volume 4, Number 32

posted May 1, 2016, 6:45 AM by Andrew Shen   [ updated Jun 24, 2016, 5:23 AM by James Marcotte ]

Hi Everyone,

I am currently staring out my dining room window at our backyard, where my perennial dandelion garden is in full bloom, daring me to do something about it.  I’m a bit in denial about what needs to be done, and thinking about the last day of our Washington D.C. trip, when I was part of a group that visited the United States Botanical Garden, which has both an indoor conservatory and a beautiful and sprawling outdoor garden (minus the weeds).  Other than the state of my own backyard, the idea of outdoor spaces and gardens has been on my mind lately because we are in the beginning stages of creating a community garden at RJ Grey.  There is at the Junior High a pretty big enclosed courtyard that used to have some large trees that shaded the bulk of the space.  Last year, the largest of those trees fell down and because we discovered quite a bit of rot we needed to remove the remainder of those trees.  That untended space now looks a bit like a nuclear wasteland, but has enormous potential and is screaming out for some attention.  There is quite a bit of flat land that we are hoping can serve as the new home for a number of raised beds where we can, among other things, perhaps grow a fair amount of vegetables and herbs that can support not only our cafeteria, but where both the growing and use of the food can be folded into classroom activities and other programs like our Cooking Club.  Since we’re still in the brainstorm and daydreaming stage of this project, we’ve let our imaginations run a bit wild and given some thought to also developing a sitting and meeting area that would be designed for a part of the courtyard where there are already a number of natural contours (tree stumps and medium sized boulders) that would suit that purpose.  As we develop these plans, we are thinking about two important features: (1) sustainability and coming up with an approach that takes into account ongoing maintenance and upkeep of the space; and (2) how to have students play a central role in the initial building, care, and then use of the space.  To make sure our current ambitions don’t get in the way of thoughtful planning, we are now in the process of getting some advice and guidance for how to develop a landscape design plan.  Once we have that in hand, we can then figure out what part comes first and how to include students and families in that project.  If you’ve got a green thumb and would like to play a part, stay tuned for updates later this Spring or even this Summer.  If you can’t wait that long, I have plenty of things in my backyard that you are more than welcome to address.  

MCAS testing returns for one final round next week (a week from Monday), starting on Monday, May 9th.  7th graders will take the MCAS math portion on May 9th and 10th, and 8th graders will take the math portion on May 11th and 12th, and also the Science & Technology exam on Friday, May 13th.  Here is a link to the RJ Grey-specific schedule for MCAS testing.   If your child is absent for one of his/her testing dates, there are a number of make-up dates that we have already scheduled, and we will coordinate those make-ups with students. Please remember to encourage/facilitate a good night’s sleep before each MCAS session, and make a point of getting your kids to eat a little something in the morning.  

The RJ Grey Drama Club will be putting on its Spring One-Act Plays. The production will feature two hilarious comedies about life in Junior High!  Performances are Thursday May 5 at 3:30 pm and Friday May 6 at 7pm in the Junior High School Auditorium. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for students, and refreshments will be sold at intermission.  

On Tuesday, May 10, we will be taking the annual 8th Grade class photo.  This is a panoramic photo that we take outside on the hill by the football field.  Order forms will be distributed to 8th grade students later this week.   If you have any questions or need any sort of financial assistance, please contact Jim Marcotte at  Please know that we are very committed to never letting finances interfere with any student’s ability to fully participate in these types of school events or “keepsakes”, and want everyone to enjoy these moments without having to think twice about potential financial impact.  

A friendly reminder for families whose children participate in our Band or Chorus programs.  The Spring concerts are coming upon us.  The Band’s Spring concert is scheduled for Tuesday, May 17 at 7pm, and the Chorus’ Spring concert is scheduled for Tuesday, May 24 at 7pm.  Please stay tuned for updates from your kids and/or Mr. Hickey (band) or Mr. Charig (chorus) about details for those evening festivities.  

For 8th grade families, a very brief “save the date” for the annual End-of-Year Celebration for 8th grade students.  It will be held the evening of Friday, June 17th, so mark it on your calendars.  In next week’s Grey Matters, I’ll share a bit more about the event, and also the role that families play in making it a great event to finish off the year (and one’s time at RJ Grey).  I also want to provide 7th grade families with their own “save the date” for a 7th grade dance that we are planning for Friday, June 10th.  We resurrected the 7th grade Spring dance last, and it turned out to be a great event and we’re looking forward to holding it again this year.  Stay tuned for more details later this month.   

Finally, our latest installment of Poetry Fridays was a nod to the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death.  Shakespeare wrote 37 plays that are still regularly performed and read the world over.  Here at RJ Grey, our 8th graders will typically read either A Midsummer Night’s Dream or Julius Caesar.  To commemorate Shakespeare’s enduring impact, Mr. Malloy and Ms. Scalice (7 Orange English) read a number of selections from different scenes in Romeo and Juliet.  Click here if you’d like to view the lines that were part of the reading.  

Have a great week, everyone.  Welcome to the month of May.