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Grey Matters, September 7, 2015; Volume 4, Number 1

posted Sep 7, 2015, 4:41 AM by Andrew Shen   [ updated Jun 24, 2016, 5:33 AM by James Marcotte ]
Hi Everyone,

Welcome and welcome back to RJ Grey.  I hope everyone enjoyed their summer, and that you all found opportunities to use the time in a way that was satisfying, and included at least a little bit of laughter, good company and some lasting memories.  With this 4-day Labor Day weekend, perhaps you've each found an opportunity to reclaim a bit of what we left behind with the end of summer.  

From our vantage point, the school year has started off well, and we hope you received similar feedback from your sons and daughters.  For those new to RJ Grey, please be assured that we dedicate the first few days to helping every student get acclimated to his/her surroundings, and we know that there's a lot to take in during these first few days.  We had opening assemblies for both grades, and the 7th grade assembly included a short welcome video that we hope gave students a snapshot of what will be part of their school year.  Our hope is that each student ended last week knowing how excited we are to be working with them.

There are some members of the administrative team that we should introduce to you.  This year, Mr. Marcotte (Assistant Principal) will travel with our current 8th grade students, and continue working primarily with them.  Jim is joined by Ms. Dancause and Ms. McGowan, two of our counselors. Ms. Warren will be the Assistant Principal working with 7th grade teams, and she will be joined by our other two counselors, Ms  O'Brien and Mr. Duclos.  

Team
Counselor
Assist. Principal
Team
Counselor
Assist. Principal
7 Green
C. O'Brien
A. Warren
8 Green
M. Dancause
J. Marcotte
7 Red
C. O'Brien
A. Warren
8 Red
M. Dancause
J. Marcotte
7 Gold
J. Duclos
A. Warren
8 Gold
K. McGowan
J. Marcotte
7 Orange
J. Duclos
A. Warren
8 Orange
K. McGowan
J. Marcotte

Getting back briefly to some of the nuts and bolts that we covered last week, last Thursday we had our first fire/evacuation drill of the year and it went extremely well.  We will have three more fire drills this year, and later this month we will practice our emergency lockdown procedure for when there might be an unsafe situation in or around the school campus.  For those of you who might be visiting RJ Grey during the day, please remember that visitors can only enter through the front door, and must sign in at the main office window.  If and when you do come through the front door, you'll be greeted by Ms. Katy Frey, who is our front office receptionist/Director of Office Affairs.  If you need some additional guidance about the dismissal process (managed by Katy), please visit this page on our web site.  

Many of you who have dropped off your children in the morning have probably encountered Mr. Marcotte and I directing traffic in the lower parking lot.  If you need some clarification about where to enter, and when cars can leave campus from the exit nearest to Prospect Street, please review this document.  While some of the morning traffic can be a bit of a nuisance, I shared this site with families at the start of last year, and do so again this year, as a way to offer some perspective on some of the woes that we might experience over the course of the upcoming year.  

By now I hope most of you have had an opportunity to visit our school website - rjgrey.abschools.org.  We make every effort to keep the site current, and you can access a number of important school documents, and connect to individual teacher websites.  In addition to our website, we have an RJ Grey Twitter account - please consider signing up!  This account will repeat some information that will always be included in our Daily Announcements, and also gives us a platform to share some fun photos and notes about activities taking place within the school.  Over the course of last year, we more than doubled our following, and sit at a respectable 332 followers.  To be sure, Dr. Brand has twice our following, though I chalk that up to his ability to declare snow days, which is clearly a distinct advantage (or at least that's the excuse I use to give me comfort).  

There's a few upcoming events and activities that I want to make sure families have on their respective radars:
  • Our Fall interscholastic sports programs all start tomorrow, September 8, in terms of tryouts (except for Cross Country which is a no-cut program).  For all information on our Athletics programs,  visit this page.  Please remember that all students who plan to participate in tryouts must have a completed "Green Form" that verifies receipt of an up-to-date physical.  Also, please be aware that the District's Athletics Office has revised the process for requesting a waiver for the required Athletics Fee.  The new form (which includes new guidelines) can be found on our Athletics website, and forms and questions should be submitted directly to the Athletics Office.
  • This year, our school musical will be "Bye Bye Birdie!" and auditions will be taking place later this month. Audition workshops will be held on September 16th and 17th, and the actual audition sessions will be on September 21st, 22nd, and 24th (for call backs).  Visit our Theatre Arts page for additional details and information.  For those who would like to learn more about the musical, there is also an information session being held this Wednesday at 6:30pm in the Auditorium.  
  • Our annual School Picture Day is scheduled for Friday, September 18th.  When we get closer to that date, we will send an order form home with students.  No need to prepare for it now, just wanted you all to know the date.  

Within the next week, our website will include a list of clubs and after school activities that are open for all students to join.  In the meantime, I did want to highlight a few new activities that are beginning very soon (one this week), and involve slightly different sign-up processes:
  • RJ Grey is again partnering with the Marcus Lewis Tennis Center to offer an after school tennis program for interested students this Fall.  Please note that this club does involve a fee, and that space is limited due to available court space.  Click here to view the flyer, and click here for other relevant information.  The program starts this week, and I know there is still space available for interested students.  
  • We are starting a new volleyball clinic for students interested in this great sport.  Click here for a copy of the flyer/sign-up form.  Ms. O'Malley, science teacher on 7 Green, has coached volleyball for a number of years and is excited to offer this program to students.  This program is limited to 30 participants and spots are filled on a first-come first-served basis.  Completed forms should be brought to Ms. O'Malley in Room 306, and the deadline is September 15.  Please see the form for the dates of the 12 scheduled sessions (mostly Thursdays with a few Mondays).  
  • Finally, in our efforts to expand our range of activities to complement our traditional offerings of interscholastic programs, we are offering a "Fit Club" that will be a one hour class designed around introducing kids to various approaches to exercise and fitness.  This club will incorporate different modes of fitness training, using both cardio and resistance training.  Classes will be energetic but will be easily tailored to different fitness levels and experience.  Our instructor, Shane Lazar, is an RJ Grey parent, has a degree in both nutrition and fitness, and is excited to bring her expertise to our middle school students.  We will be offering it on Fridays, from 2:30pm to 3:30pm starting on September 18th for a 10-week session.  There is no fee to participate, but there is a sign up process involved.  Students and/or parents should contact Kate Murray (housed in the Main Office) at kmurray@abschools to sign up and ask questions.  

Continuing with the subject of after school options, our Library will again be available to RJ Grey students after school from 2:15pm until 4:30pm, and directly supervised by a staff member.  Our hope is to create the feel of a "learning commons" where different types of independent and group work can take place, and students can access resources in a variety of ways.  With this in mind, the Library should not be viewed as a space for socializing after school. We aren't requiring absolute silence, though we want an environment where chaos is kept at a minimum.  Please also know that we can not accommodate the siblings of our students who may be attending other schools on campus.  If your child is not interested in the Library but needs to wait for bit of time for a ride, we have expanded the number of couches and tables found in our Lobby, and students are welcome to congregate there.  A reminder to families that they should work directly with their children on communicating their whereabouts after school has ended.  

Finally, Back to School Night will be on Wednesday, September 24th - save the date!On that evening, we ask parents to vote for two 7th grade parent/guardian representatives who will serve on this year's School Council.  The School Council is comprised of four parents, three RJ Grey staff members, and yours truly. The role of the School Council is to review and discuss various aspects of the school's activities and goals, and offer advice and guidance about different topics that may emerge during the year.  The Council will meet seven times this year, on Monday evenings (October 5 being the first one).  If you are a 7th grade parent interested in serving on the Council, please submit a short paragraph about yourself by noon on Friday, September 18th for the ballot. Write-ups can be sent to PTSO co-chair Tammy Sarnelli at tammy.sarnelli@biogenidec.com or to me at ashen@abschools.org.  

Have a great week, everyone.  Welcome back.  

Cheers,  
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