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Grey Matters, May 9, 2016; Volume 4, Number 33

posted May 12, 2016, 8:34 AM by Andrew Shen   [ updated Jun 24, 2016, 5:23 AM by James Marcotte ]

Hi Everyone,

Happy Mother’s Day to any and all of you who plays that role to one (or more) of our students, or to anyone else. Melisa (my wife) and I have now been together for almost 15 years, and from pretty early on in our relationship we’ve been a couple that prioritized getting the right gift over the joys of being surprised (and potentially confused) by a gift.  Melisa was with me when her engagement ring was designed and ordered, which gave me, an individual who knows little about jewelry styles, immense peace of mind that it suited her tastes. Side not, the fact that I waited for a bit of time after having bought the ring to actually present it to her and propose was apparently not evidence of good planning on my part.  I didn’t think that the time in between was too long, but my then soon-to-be mother-in-law gently offered me an alternate perspective. So for me, when I got an email from Melisa two weeks ago about a possible Mother’s Day present that included a link for a dress that she liked, and a note that ordering it that day would enable me to use a 25% off coupon, I didn’t flinch and instead was happy that she found something she liked, and grateful she sent me the note.  Hopefully she’ll have a similar reaction when I send her a link to the outdoor pergola that I’ve been eyeing for our backyard (to go with all the weeds), and think would be a wonderful Father’s Day present.  It’s great that the sun has finally decided to make an appearance today-- Mother’s Day-- and I hope many of you are enjoying the day with family and friends. 

MCAS testing returns tomorrow.   7th graders will take the MCAS math portion tomorrow and Tuesday, 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.  

I provided a “save the date” last week for our end-of-year 8th grade dance, which is scheduled for Friday, June 17th.  I also provided 7th grade families with their own “save the date” for a 7th grade dance that we are planning for Friday, June 10, and will be at 7pm.  

Back to the 8th grade End-of-Year Dance/Celebration.  Right now,  I’d like to pass along some information from Kristen Kina, the RJ Grey parent who (thankfully) is coordinating the planning of the event.  Given that we usually have at least 350 student attend, we rely heavily on the many volunteers who help make the event a special way to end the year.  Parents or guardians of 7th and 8th graders are typically needed for the following jobs: Set Up after school on June 17th; Clean Up; Drink Donations; and Food Donations.  Similar to past years, it would be great to see parents of 7th graders volunteer "pay it forward" this year so that parents of eighth graders can focus on their own children's participation in this important event. You'll also get a preview of what your child will be able to enjoy next year! Kristen will be sending out a “Sign Up Genius” email that invites parents and guardians to sign up for different roles.  Tina Connors, who is in charge of the 7th grade dance, will also be sending out a Sign Up Genius email to invite volunteers to help with that event as well.  If you have questions, you can contact Kristen and, or Tina Connors at  Thank you in advance for your help with these two year-end activities.  

A friendly reminder that this coming Tuesday 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 have been distributed to 8th grade students.   If you have any questions or need any sort of financial assistance, please contact Jim Marcotte at  

A second 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.  

Finally, I wanted to briefly direct everyone’s attention to an article that perhaps some of you may have already recently read about a Princeton professor’s “CV of Failures” that he published, listing programs he didn’t get into, funding he didn’t successfully secure, and rejections from academic journals.  Reading this article reminded me of one of my all-time favorite commencement speeches, which was JK Rowling’s (author of the Harry Potter series/newly minted trillionaire) speech at Harvard in 2008.  If you have 20 minutes, I’d encourage you to take a moment and watch her speech, where she talks both about the value of failure, and the importance of imagination.  Back to the article about the Princeton professor, here’s my favorite part of that article:  “As scientists, we construct a narrative of success that renders our setbacks invisible both to ourselves and to others...often, other scientists’ careers seem to be a constant, streamlined series of triumphs. Therefore, whenever we experience an individual failure, we feel alone and dejected. She advises people to keep a CV of failures, to remind themselves that failure is an essential part of what it means to be a scientist, and perhaps to inspire a disheartened colleague along the way.”

Have a great week, everyone.