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Grey Matters for September 26, 2016; Volume 5, Number 4

posted Sep 25, 2016, 8:31 AM by Andrew Shen   [ updated Jul 18, 2017, 11:05 AM by James Marcotte ]

Dear RJ Grey Families,

It was wonderful seeing many of you at Thursday evening’s Back to School Night event.  I hope those who attended found that it provided a useful snapshot of your child’s time here at RJ Grey, and that we’re excited to be working with your children.  It was great to travel with a few of you to various classrooms, and thank you for introducing yourselves to me.  I hope we’ll have more opportunities to be in each other’s company throughout the year.  

My plan this week is to use Grey Matters primarily to highlight and direct your attention to a message that you received from Dr. Brand at the end of last week that was prompted in part by the recent death of a 12th grade student at the High School. Some of your children may be aware of this loss through older siblings, friends or neighbors who may have a connection to the High School or the student’s family.  As parents and guardians, you may have questions or might welcome guidance about how to support your child and address questions she/he may raise.  I am including below a brief expansion on information that was included in Dr. Brand’s message, and hope that many will attend the presentation that is scheduled for Monday evening.  

We have been coordinating with the High School on their efforts to support their students and be forthcoming with families while also honoring the privacy that the student’s family had requested as they work through the grief process.  Much of the High School’s response is informed by the Good Grief program, which is housed at the Boston Medical Center (click here for their site).  The co-founder of the Good Grief program, Maria Trozzi, has provided training to our District on strategies for providing safety and support to students who have experienced a loss and we will continue to utilize those protocols to assist those in need.  As Dr. Brand’s message mentioned, Maria Trozzi is coming to Acton-Boxborough to work directly with families about the grief process. Her presentation will take place this Monday evening, September 26, in the High School Auditorium at 7pm (click for flyer).  If you are able to arrange your schedules to attend, I would highly recommend it.  Maria is an internationally recognized expert in bereavement, grief, and trauma.  Her experiences include providing therapeutic support for individual families and detailed guidance to communities who are grieving the loss of a loved one.   

We know allowing our kids the space and opportunity to share their questions with a trusted adult, at home or at school, is important.  If you do have particular concerns about your child and you would like help with supporting her/him, please reach out to your child's counselor here at the Junior High. One dimension to supporting students that Maria will also likely touch upon is to offer, whenever possible, the benefits of maintaining some semblance of a routine, and keeping to familiar elements of one’s day.  We hope to help students at this age develop some of the important skills that allow them to be resilient during difficult life situations such as these. We will absolutely partner with you in advancing this important message, and guiding our students through these moments.  

A few other items and reminders to share as we enter this upcoming week:

  • Congratulations to parents Michelle Hanlon and Tom Wolf who were elected by RJ Grey parents to serve on the School Council.  Many thanks again to all of the six parents (Heather Arthur, Pam Fleming, Brenda Kurtyka, Ginny Kremer, Michelle and Tom) who put themselves out there and threw their hat into the ring.  

  • Our sports programs are all moving steadily along in the season, and have already begun competing in matches and games with other schools.  All of our after school clubs and activities are also well under way!  Please remind students that the vast majority of clubs and activities at RJ Grey (with a few exceptions due to size limits) are open to new participants throughout the year, so it’s never too late to sign up.  In other words, if your student missed the first meeting, he/she shouldn’t think that it’s no longer possible to participate.  Click here for a current list of clubs and activities available at the Junior High.  

  • My speculation is that a number of teachers probably mentioned their teacher and/or team websites at some point during Back to School Night.  We’ve got them listed on the RJ Grey website by grade, so you can visit 7th grade teacher websites here, and 8th grade teacher websites here.  

  • We had a smooth Picture Day last Wednesday.   If your child was absent last Wednesday, we have a make-up/re-take day scheduled for October 27. For any additional questions, please contact Jim Marcotte at  

  • There is no school scheduled for Monday, October 3, which is Rosh Hashanah.  A happy new year to those who observe this religious holiday.  

Looking a bit farther ahead, a reminder (though not sure anyone hasn’t already noticed it) that we have a longer-than-usual long weekend from October 8 thru October 12.  October 10 is Columbus Day weekend, and October 12 is Yom Kippur so this year Acton-Boxborough elected to schedule this as an extended period away from school.  There will be no homework assigned during this stretch of time, and no assessments will be scheduled for the day we return.  Keep that in mind if you are pondering some possible activities or short trips for your family.  In next week’s Grey Matters, I’ll share a bit more about our plans this year for homework-free long weekends, which is an extension of the practice we began last year (and plan to continue) around homework-free vacations.  I’ll provide context and summaries of these plans along with some of our staff’s conversations about homework in general.  

We had our latest installment of Poetry Fridays at the end of last week.  Mr. Malloy shared with us The Terrapins, a poem that reflects a bit on the life of a turtle by poet Wendell Berry.  Click here if you’d like to read the poem as well.  In hindsight, since Poetry Fridays featured a poem about an animal, perhaps a piece that highlighted the day in the life of a wandering bear would have been a more timely selection.  

Have a good week, everyone.  Please do consider attending the Maria Trozzi presentation on Monday evening.