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Grey Matters, April 24, 2017; Volume 5, Number 30

posted Apr 23, 2017, 5:09 AM by Andrew Shen   [ updated Jul 18, 2017, 11:06 AM by James Marcotte ]

Hi Everyone,

Welcome back from what was hopefully a restful and meaningful April Break for you and your family.  While I didn’t go anywhere exciting this past week, I did manage to stay away from work -- both physically and mentally (for the most part).  Similar to many of you, I certainly wouldn’t mind one more day before getting back into regularly scheduled programming.  Nevertheless, I am looking forward to seeing the staff and students at school tomorrow morning.  I’m also looking forward to checking on the growth of the plantings in our RJ Grey Garden.  On the Thursday prior to break, students on 7 Gold and 7 Green lent a helping hand with moving dirt, wood chips and peat moss into our new raised beds.  There was also plenty of time and (more than enough) hands to complete the first planting of “cold weather crops”, specifically spinach, arugula, carrots, kale, and lettuce, all of which will be harvested before the end of the school year.  It was nice to see many of our students getting some dirt between their fingers during the school day and we’re excited about finding different ways for the garden to play a role within our classrooms and extracurricular activities.  The RJG Garden would not be possible without the green thumb and enthusiasm of Anne Spalding.  For those who don’t already know Anne, she’s my administrative assistant and office manager (i.e. the one who makes me look more capable and on top of things than I really am).  Many thanks to Anne and the 7 Gold and 7 Green teachers who assisted in coordinating the activities that Thursday.  

Here’s some calendar-related reminders for you to keep in mind as we return from the Break:

  • We begin MCAS testing for 7th grade students this week, specifically this Tuesday and Wednesday.  Makeups for absent students will take place later in the week. Testing this week will focus on the English Language Arts (ELA) portion of the assessment, and all 7th grade students will be participating in testing on both days.  Here is the MCAS schedule if you’d like to review it.  As a reminder, the 7th grade MCAS continues to be paper-based (as in previous years).  This is different from the 8th grade testing this year which has used a computer-based platform.  Please encourage/help your 7th grade students have a healthy breakfast before coming to school and feel free to send them with a little something (i.e. breakfast bar, muffin) to start the day.  

  • For current 7th grade students:  students who are interested in running for one of next year’s Student Council officer positions (President, Vice President, Treasurer, Secretary) should begin the process for “pulling papers” and the election process.  Nomination forms will be available starting tomorrow --- Monday, April 24 and are due Friday, April 29. Anyone who plans to run will need to meet in Room 325 during Grey Block on Friday, April 29.  

Before the April Break, I quickly mentioned that we are currently in the beginning stages of planning a student trip to Washington D.C. for next April 2018.  Up to 150 students will be able to participate in this program. We will first offer spots to our current 7th graders and then in September open remaining spaces to our newest class of students, as well as those who may not have signed up this Spring. If you are interested in learning more about this opportunity (financial cost, logistics, and programming) for your child, please considering attending an informational session at the Junior High on the evening of Wednesday, May 3 at 6:30pm in our auditorium.  This trip will again be coordinated by Mr. Marc Lewis, Social Studies teacher on 7 Green, and will eventually serve as the point of contact for parents and students wishing to learn more about this opportunity.  

This week is a busy one in terms of our engagement with current 6th grade families whose children plan to join us at RJ Grey in September.  We have our Curriculum Night scheduled for this Wednesday evening, and then we have a day (Friday) where we offer tours to parents and guardians; and then on the following Monday, the PTSO is hosting an event where families can engage directly with current parents to discuss the transition process and the strategies, advice, and reassurances that our parents are most equipped to offer to incoming families.  If you have friends and/or neighbors who are joining the RJ Grey community for the first time this Fall, please encourage them to attend some of these programs, as we look forward to welcoming them (and their children) to our school.  

Last year, as part of our all-school assembly that we hold on the last day of school (for students and staff), the English Department sponsored a friendly contest for students who had an interest in reading an original poem during the assembly.  We’re pleased to be including that feature again this year as part of our annual send-off event.  Called, “The Final Verse”, current 8th grade students are invited to submit an original poem that speaks to one of a few possible themes (such as life lessons, memories, endings/beginnings).  One of the submitted poems will be selected and the student author will be invited to read it as part of the year-end celebration.  8th grade English teachers will share more information directly with students, and families can review the details of this contest by clicking here.  Students who submit a piece must make sure to give it to their English teacher by May 26.  English teachers will share additional details with students during their classes.  

During my time away from school last week I had an opportunity to read a number of articles that had a direct or tangential connection to some of the topics and projects we’ve been working on at Acton-Boxborough, along with some that touch upon themes related to parenting and kids.  Reading them from the perspective of a dad and educator, I wanted to pass along links to these pieces should you share some interest in the subject matter.  First, here is an article in the Washington Post that offers suggestions for how parents (and guardians) can stay connected and engaged with their teenage sons.  This one was probably my favorite one from last week, as it offered me some important reminders about exercising a bit more patience when my oldest son offers me one word answers to all of my brilliantly crafted and delivered questions about his day [Question: “What’d you have for lunch at school today?”  Answer: “Food”].  An article in the April 12 edition of the Boston Globe provided a summary of local efforts to explore adding time for school recess.  While the focus seems to be primarily at the elementary level, the idea of incorporating some downtime or “brain breaks” within the school schedule is something that has been a part of our recent review at the Junior High of our school schedule so that article definitely caught my eye. Finally, as a nod to our District’s ongoing work around the importance of sleep in the health and development of our students (and the rest of us), I wanted to share this article about how the Boston Red Sox now have a clubhouse sleep room as part of their efforts to encourage healthy sleeping habits in their players.  I know that the District’s Wellness Committee is working hard on identifying various options related to school start times and I’m looking forward to the next stages of that initiative.  

Finally, for those who ran the Boston Marathon last week, or who went to the event to cheer on friends and family, I hope it was a great day for all of you.

Have a great week, everyone.