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Grey Matters for October 17, 2016; Volume 5, Number 7

posted Oct 16, 2016, 12:41 PM by Andrew Shen   [ updated Jul 18, 2017, 11:03 AM by James Marcotte ]

Hi Everyone,

My oldest son had back-to-back soccer games this past Saturday due to a rain out earlier in the season.  It  made for an even more soccer-centered weekend for our family, which I didn’t think was possible.  In two weeks we’ll be at the Lower Fields on AB’s campus for a game against one of the community’s 6th grade travel teams.  Whenever my son has an athletic competition against an AB team at the Lower Fields, I’m always tempted to wear a wig and sunglasses since we all know that youth sports can sometimes get a little intense on the sidelines.  While there is a chance that we’ll be cheering for opposing teams, I know that we probably have a shared appreciation for the benefits that youth sports provides for all of our kids.  I would also hazard a guess that we probably also share an anxiousness around injuries, especially concussions. Though my son has often lamented restrictions on heading the ball, I appreciate the many efforts geared towards reducing the risks of suffering a concussion. Earlier this month, the New York Times posted a story that highlighted growing concerns about the long-term impact of concussions, as well as the overall number of concussions being reported.  If your child does suffer a concussion, please know that we take it very seriously and we want to prioritize health and recovery over everything else.  With this in mind, I want to re-share below some information that we’ve previously sent to families on our approach to concussions.  

The impact of a concussion on an adolescent is varied and the recovery process will often look different for each student - and so what’s best for the student is to tailor our response to each circumstance.  For many, the recovery period could involve a simple delay in when a test is taken; for others it will necessitate a reduced workload and a plan/timeline to make up work.  Please remember that any recovery plan should begin with our school nurse (Erin Livie, receiving documentation from a physician.  In any scenario, consistent communication between the school and families is central to an effective recovery plan.  To that end, we have developed and implemented a protocol where each case of a physician-diagnosed concussion will have a “case manager” to handle the exchange of information amongst families, teachers, and the nurse. In the majority of cases, this case manager will be the student’s counselor.  In a 2013 Boston Globe article about adolescent concussions there is a quote, "Deciding when someone has rested enough is still an art form" -- which reflects the experiences many of us have had.  This issue can be a moving target given the ambiguities and challenges involved with head injuries, along with the actual severity of any single concussion. For 12 to 14 year olds, this detour from normal routines can be confusing and stressful, and that can make it difficult for teachers and parents to always know where pulling back is best, and when a student would benefit from our starting to push on the gas pedal a bit.  For this reason, constant communication and updates about a student’s physical recovery will be key to navigating each case.  

Here’s some updates and reminders for the next few weeks:

  • There is no school for students on Tuesday, November 8.  This is a Professional Day for school staff.  It is also Election Day for our country, and Dr. Denise Pope from Challenge Success will be presenting to families that evening (7pm, High School auditorium).  

  • Hopefully most of you are aware of the ongoing Capital Planning study that our District has been pursuing over the past two years.  This effort is focused on identifying the long-term needs of our school facilities, exploring possible new building projects, as well as updates and repairs to existing spaces.  You can review documents and reports related to this study by going to the District’s Capital and Space Planning site.  There is also a community presentation scheduled for Wednesday, November 9 at 7pm (in the Junior High Library) on the final Master Plan report that has been developed by Dore & Whittier, the firm that was hired by A-B to facilitate this process (click here for flyer).  

  • There is also no school scheduled for Friday, November 11, as it is Veteran’s Day.  That’s a couple of weeks out, but wanted to just offer a friendly reminder.  

On Wednesday or Thursday of this week, we will be mailing out mid-trimester interims.  For those new to RJ Grey, a brief explanation.  “Interims” is the term that we use for what others might call “progress reports”, or “warnings”.  Teachers submit interims for any students who might be struggling in their class - this could be based on performances on tests and quizzes, consistency of homework, or other assessments and observations.  In addition, there are a number of teachers who provide interims as a way to update families, and this could also include feedback about how well a student is performing in a particular class.  This is all to say that there are number of reasons why you might receive an interim in the mail from your child’s teachers (note: you may also not receive anything).  If and when you do receive one (it will be via US Postal Mail), please read the information and comments carefully and consider using it as a way to begin a dialogue with your child.  If there is information that you would like clarified, please contact the teacher and begin a dialogue with him or her.  The Fall Trimester does not close until the week of Thanksgiving, so there is plenty of time for students to use this feedback to make adjustments.  

Each year I typically use Grey Matters to provide an overview of our annual Halloween Dress Up Day.  This year I’ve decided to send all families a separate email on that since not every parent/guardian reads or receives this newsletter, and I needed to make sure that this year’s note about Dress Up Day gets to each home (for reasons I’ll explain in the message).  So please stay tuned for that email in your Inbox.  

Finally, if you have a free moment tonight, check out the “supermoon” that will be in night sky.  I read a bit about it in today’s Boston Globe and it was nice to come upon this article amongst the presidential election-focused stories that have been (understandably) dominating the local and national news cycles.  If you might also be someone who is in need of some brief moments of peaceful distraction to help calm and soothe the soul during this final month of campaigning, I offer you a friendly reminder that over one hundred full episodes of the 1980s PBS series The Joy of Painting with the late icon, and one of my childhood heroes, Bob Ross (the Happy Painter) are available on his YouTube channel.  

Have a great week, everyone.