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Grey Matters, December 5, 2016; Volume 5, Number 14

posted Dec 4, 2016, 12:21 PM by Andrew Shen   [ updated Jul 18, 2017, 11:06 AM by James Marcotte ]
Hi Everyone,

It was a big week/weekend for RJ Grey with five performances of Once Upon a Mattress.   There might have been a little bit of stress and anxiousness that permeated the atmosphere during the start of the week as rehearsals lasted longer and became a bit more intense.  Some costumes needed some extra sewing, parts of the set were being painted, and last minute adjustments of the choreography were injected into the plan.  By Thursday night when the curtains parted and the house lights went down, our students were ready to put on another great performance for our entire community to enjoy.  I attended the Friday night performance and once again found myself marveling at the talent and joy that was on display by our students.  I also had the unexpected pleasure of being invited to watch the musical with the “cool kids” -- Mrs. Frey and Mrs. Jarostchuk. Along with the many parents and families who attended the musical, I was really heartened to see such a large contingent of current and former RJ Grey students (who are now at the high school) in attendance and cheering loudly for their classmates and friends.  Congratulations to the many students, staff and parent volunteers who were part of this year’s musical production.


Some reminders for this week, and then a note about Fall Trimester report cards coming home later this week (probably Thursday).  


  • Don’t forget that Yearbooks are now for sale. If you’d like to review the two different options for ordering a Yearbook, you can do that by clicking here.

  • The first of three parent-teacher conference days is scheduled for Thursday, December 15.  All (Junior High) students will have an early release day, and dismissed at 10:40am.  All bus routes will be available after school, and a friendly reminder to families to have a quick conversation with your child about plans and expectations for where they should be going once school is dismissed.  For those parents and guardians who have meetings scheduled on Thursday, please double check your assigned times.  You would have received that via an email message from either Katy Frey (7th grade) or Anne Spalding (8th grade).  

  • There will be a presentation this Thursday, December 8 at 7:30pm in the RJ Grey Library on the District’s Master Plan Study Report.  Multiple options for future school building and/or renovation projects will be presented, including ones that may involve changes in grade configuration (which grades are grouped together) and/or the number of schools and buildings.  This is the beginning of a very important process that will be (or at least should be) of significant interest to community members.  Some of you may have recently seen a series of articles about other communities and their current efforts related to designing and funding new school building projects.  Check out this recent Globe article about projects in Waltham, Somerville, and Lowell, or one earlier this Fall about Brookline’s plans for building a much needed elementary school.  I know weeknights are really hard in terms of getting away, but if you can find a way to attend I really recommend making an effort to participate.

  • We just finished our Fall sessions for Yoga Club and Fit Club.  We’re currently working on finalizing dates for Winter sessions for both activities.  Stay tune for follow-up announcements about signing up.  Yoga Club will likely continue to be on Thursdays, and Fit Club will likely continue to be on Fridays (specific dates and meeting locations TBD).  

  • I had the pleasure of writing letters of congratulations for our first few students who submitted their hours of community service as part of our Rise to the Challenge program. You can review details of the program and download forms by clicking here.  


Fall Trimester report cards are going home with students later this week, likely Thursday.    Once you do have time to view the report cards, please use this as an opportunity to have a conversation with your child(ren).  For subjects where they experienced some success, what did they think was an important factor, and how can they build on that momentum?  For subjects where they might be hoping to improve, what goals or strategies might be worth trying over the next few months?  Asking students to self-assess and giving them a supportive venue to be honest with themselves is a critical first step to any adjustments that they (or you) might hope they make moving forward.  


I would imagine that amongst our student population, there may be a few whose report cards show some signs of difficulty in a few subjects.  They aren’t the first (nor will they be the last) middle schoolers whose report cards may result in a bit of angst and distress for themselves and their parents. What has perhaps become one of the more amusing traditions during my time as Principal is where confess to RJ Grey families about my own sordid middle school academic career, specifically the minor disaster that was my 7th grade winter report card, issued in 1989 by the Andover Public Schools. Like many other parents before you, you can view a photo of said report card by clicking here.  Again, please note that teachers’ names, and my parents’ home address, have been blurred to protect the innocent. I’ve enjoyed many of the stories that parents have sent to me about the conversations they had with their children about their Principal’s report card. If your child is reluctant to fork over the report card or comes up with an illogical explanation about its whereabouts, compare it to the below story of what I tried to do with mine. (now being re-told for the 5th time).  


On the day that the above report card was distributed, I spent a good hour devising an ingenious plan to save myself from what I expected to be a painful conversation with my parents.  My brilliant idea?  I folded up my report card, placed it in my pants pocket, and then purposely ran those pants through the washing machine - twice.  I convinced myself (truly) that a spin cycle or two would actually make the D+ I earned in Math fade a bit and maybe look like a believable B+.  Shockingly, the plan didn’t work.  On behalf of your kids, and the thirteen-year old version of me, please keep in mind that they are not purposely trying to make you miserable and turn prematurely gray/bald.  The prefrontal cortex of thirteen and fourteen-year old brains is still developing, and this will often result in utterly bewildering decisions (and excuses).  This too shall pass, though later for boys than girls.  For boys, I’ve been told that it will probably happen between their 40th and 42nd birthdays.  


For those whose kids may instead be coming home with “that other” report card that might look like mine, when you have a conversation with your child about it, please remind yourself of what we all already know: that patience and encouragement (and some mercy) often go a long way in these situations. If you hope to have a productive conversation with them about it, they need to be convinced that your motivation for talking is not just rooted in judgment, but also driven by curiosity and a sincere interest in expressing empathy and support.  


Middle school is a time when a dozen things are happening and changing at the same time - to their brains, their bodies, how they relate to peers and adults, and they’re trying on different personalities to see what feels right.  With all this change, sometimes the academic part doesn’t go quite as planned and they may not be prepared to identify the reasons why.  A less-than-stellar middle school report card is not usually a preview of what your son or daughter will be like when they are adults (or even as high school students), nor is it really structured to offer insight about their continued development as kind, thoughtful, and creative individuals.  We (parents and educators) should definitely continue to have healthy academic goals and aspirations for all of our kids, and let’s remind ourselves that getting there can sometimes be a function of time and might also include (and benefit from) a few detours along the way.  


Finally, we had another installment of Poetry Fridays to end our week.  Our guest presenter was Mr. Harvey, Social Studies teacher on 7 Orange.  Mr. Harvey chose to read the lyrics of Bob Dylan’s song Forever Young as a nod to the Nobel Prize being recently awarded to Mr. Dylan (despite his seeming lack of interest in the award).  You can read the lyrics by clicking here.


Have a great week, everyone.


Cheers,

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