Grey Matters‎ > ‎Grey Matters 16-17‎ > ‎

Grey Matters for December 19, 2016; Volume 5, Number 16

posted Dec 18, 2016, 8:34 AM by Andrew Shen   [ updated Jul 18, 2017, 11:03 AM by James Marcotte ]

Hi Everyone,

Well that was quite the wintry blast that we experienced at the end of last week.  I assume most of you also felt and heard the howling winds that came through on Thursday night.  As I was listening to the wind begin to crescendo and wondering which tree in our yard was going to fall on my house, I swear that within the noise I heard the refrain “San Francisco….” over and over again.  Combined with the single digit temperatures on Friday morning, I was inspired to put some $20 bills into my San Fran or Bust moving jar, bringing the current balance to $82.50.  That amount will probably go down to $42.50 when I realize that I need most of that cash for something else later this week - probably buying one of my kids a pair of gloves after he/she loses another set.  I didn’t realize that all of the money that I no longer spend on daycare costs would now be redirected to making sure Lost & Found bins throughout the metro Boston area would be overflowing with my children’s clothing, but I digress.  While I was outside during Friday morning drop off, I did spend some time thinking about turning my money jar into a GoFundMe page and mobilizing the Acton-Boxborough community to get into the holiday spirit and send their Junior High principal to a warmer climate.  While this fundraising idea and plea for donations is in fact a playful figment of my imagination, mentioning it gives me an opportunity to transition to something that the Superintendent’s office has asked Principals to mention to families, which is a reminder about guidelines for giving gifts to school staff members.  First and foremost, please know that no family should ever feel that gift giving is expected.  To be honest, and with all sincerity, I have noticed that simple expressions of thanks that are sent along to teachers by students and families are “gifts” that are treasured by our staff.  For families who do choose to provide a gift to a member of the RJ Grey staff, I do need to direct your attention to state ethics laws that limit the gifts that teachers, coaches, and staff are permitted to receive.  There’s actually a whole series of details about this (because it tends to get a little complicated at the elementary levels with class gifts, etc.), but to keep things simple for us: staff can not accept gifts from a single family that exceeds $50 in value for the entire school year. For those who send in homemade desserts and treats and want to know what monetary value is placed on those, of course the answer is priceless.  Though truth be told, those sugary gifts should probably come with a 6-month health club membership for the start of the new year.  All kidding aside, I share the above info about gift giving as a friendly reminder about important guidelines that we’re obligated to follow and to take this opportunity to thank all RJ Grey families for the many ways that each of you supports the school and our teachers throughout the year.  

Here’s some important calendar and event reminders for the next few weeks:

  • The next set of parent-teacher conferences is this Tuesday, December 20.  That means that all students will be dismissed at 10:40am.  Please be sure to confirm with your child plans and expectations for after school as they will not be able to remain in the school building.  

  • We have a full day of school on Friday, December 23, and then the Winter Break begins!  If you and your family are beginning your break a bit before that (or a lot before that), please be sure to let our front office know so we can take accurate attendance (email Katy Frey at  It would also be important to have your child speak to each of his/her teachers about missed work and assignments.  

  • School resumes after Winter Break on Tuesday, January 3 (translation: don’t send your kids to school on Monday, January 2 - we won’t be there!)

  • We have our final set of parent-teacher conferences scheduled for Thursday, January 5.  Students will again be dismissed at 10:40am.  

  • Save the Date: The Winter Band Concert is the evening of Tuesday, January 10, and the Winter Chorus and String Ensemble Concert is the evening of Wednesday, January 18.  

  • Don’t forget that Yearbook sales are currently underway, and students and families can order a copy up through January 19.  Click here to review the options for ordering a yearbook.  

We have many students participating in the Ski and Board Club when we return from the Break, and that means on Tuesdays Ski and Board Club members are dropped off in the morning with quite a bit of gear.  The first session of Ski and Board Club is actually the Tuesday we return from Break (January 3).  For those of you planning to drop off kids and gear in the lower parking lot, it would be immensely helpful if the gear was organized in a way that supported a speedy drop-off.  The best case scenario is if you have those ski bags that package everything up all nice and are easy to carry. Believe it or not, some of our 13-year olds throw their equipment all over the trunk before leaving the house (I know, hard to imagine), and then everyone in the parking lot gets to watch them and me get tangled up in boots, poles, and helmets.  I’ll do my best to help kids with getting gear out of the trunk, and anything that you can do in advance would be much appreciated.  There are also some families who choose to drop off their child’s ski/boarding gear later in the day and bring it to the auditorium where it is stored.  Ski/boarding gear can not be brought on school buses in the morning.  

We had our latest round of Everyday Leaders take place two weeks ago. It was great to spend some time with a number of our students and see how the year is going, and to also get some of their initial feedback on different parts of the RJ Grey experience.  Congratulations to this group of Everyday Leaders: Skylar Busiek, Mara Clement, Libby Drum, Paolina Garro, Elsa Grant, Josh Grieco-Page, Maya Kamireddi, Maria Redmond, Cailey Ryan, and Aishwarya Srinivasan.  

In an effort to keep some perspective about the frigid temperatures on Friday, we had an edition of Poetry Fridays that highlighted a poem by Stephen Dunn entitled, “The Same Cold” and was read by Mr. Malloy.  Click here if you’d like to read it as well.  

Finally, I want to wish everyone a wonderful Winter Break.  Remember that as part of our homework practice there will be no homework or studying assigned to students for this period of time. I would, however, highly recommend at least a little bit of reading during their time off! A book, magazine, graphic novel - reading for pleasure is always a good thing.  Please encourage your child to disconnect from school for the duration of the vacation, and focus his/her energies and time on other interests, friends, and family.  Safe travels to those of you who might be making a trip out of state.    

Have a great week and restful Winter Break, everyone.