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Grey Matters for September 5, 2016; Volume 5, Number 1

posted Sep 4, 2016, 9:18 AM by Andrew Shen   [ updated Jul 18, 2017, 11:05 AM by James Marcotte ]

Hi Everyone,

Welcome and welcome back to RJ Grey.  I hope everyone enjoyed their summer, and that you all found a few opportunities to use the time away to pursue other interests, complete some long-overdue projects, and enjoy the company of those who matter to you the most.  A few of us at RJ Grey work during the summer, though the pace is certainly different and each of us also found ways to carve out time to prioritize rest and relaxation for ourselves.  My retreat from work involved a few local adventures, including a trip to an aerial tree course in the Berkshires, where my oldest son (see photo) confirmed that he did not inherit his father’s fear of heights.  With this past 4-day Labor Day weekend, hopefully many of you eked out one more summer-like activity before we all settle into the routines and activities that will occupy our time and energy this year.

From our vantage point, the first two days of school went well, and I’m certainly hoping that you received similar feedback from your sons and daughters.  For those new to RJ Grey, please be assured that we dedicate the first few days to helping every student get acclimated to his/her surroundings, and we know that there’s a lot to take in during these first few days.  We had opening assemblies for both grades, and the 7th grade assembly included a short welcome video that we hope gave students a snapshot of what will be part of their school year.  I ended that assembly emphasizing that our goal for those first two days is for each of them to know how excited we are to have them at RJ Grey this year.  

For those of you who might be visiting RJ Grey during the day, please remember that visitors can only enter through the front door, and must sign in at the main office window.  Recently, Glenn Brand our Superintendent shared a letter (click here for a copy) with the A-B community about plans to lock all front entrances during the school day.  Visitors will then need to be “buzzed in.”  That change will happen on October 4, and I’ll be sure to send details and instructions before that date.  If and when you do come through the front door, you’ll be greeted by Ms. Katy Frey, who is our front office receptionist (also known in our office, and various corners of Acton and Boxborough, as the Executive Director of Office Affairs).  If you need some additional guidance about the dismissal process (managed by Katy), please visit this page on our web site.  

Many of you who have dropped off your children in the morning have probably encountered Mr. Marcotte and I directing traffic in the lower parking lot.  If you need some clarification about where to enter, and when cars can leave campus from the exit nearest to Prospect Street, please review this document.  While some of the morning traffic can be a bit of a nuisance, I have shared this site with families at the start of the last few school years as a way to offer some perspective on some of the traffic woes that we might experience over the course of the upcoming year.  For those families who are veterans of the drop-off circus process, you’ll notice that the Junior High parking lot is no longer available to high school drivers.  This will hopefully help reduce some of the challenges and congestion that we’ve often navigated each morning.  

This coming week will include a few safety-related activities and conversations with the students.  Along with the first of four fire/evaluation drills that we hold annually, we’ll also be hosting all-grade assemblies to introduce students to the newly-adopted ALICE protocol.  In the same letter introducing plans to lock front entrances starting in October, Dr. Brand also shared our District’s plans to join many of the surrounding communities in providing ALICE training to our staff and students.  Given that ALICE training is specifically focused on responding to a situation involving an armed intruder, we do plan to approach our conversation with students as thoughtfully as possible.  Students at this age present an interesting dilemma - they are usually savvy enough to quickly see through any use of ambiguous language to describe why we are introducing ALICE.  At the same time, we have to be mindful of the fact that 12 to 14-year olds still need help processing what is an inherently messy and upsetting topic. We want students to have an appropriate level of awareness and preparation, and we also want avoid having the experience be anxiety-inducing.  So it’s a delicate balance we are going to try and establish and as we move forward with aspects of our training, I’ll keep everyone posted.  

By now I hope most of you have had an opportunity to visit our school website -  We make every effort to keep the site current, and you can access a number of important school documents, and connect to individual teacher websites.  In addition to our website, we have an RJ Grey Twitter account - please consider signing up!  This account will repeat some information that will always be included in our Daily Announcements, and also gives us a platform to share some fun photos and notes about activities taking place within the school.  Over the course of last year, we more than doubled our following, and sit at a respectable 514 followers.

There’s a few upcoming events and activities that I want to make sure families have on their respective radars:

  • Our Fall interscholastic sports programs all start Wednesday, September 7 in terms of tryouts (except for Cross Country which is a no-cut program, but also has an informational meeting).  For all information on our Athletics programs, visit this page.  Please remember that all students who plan to participate in tryouts must have a completed “Green Form” that verifies receipt of an up-to-date physical.  Also, please be aware that the District’s Athletics Office has revised the process for requesting a waiver for the required Athletics Fee.  The form can be found on our Athletics website, and forms and questions should be submitted directly to the Athletics Office.  

  • This year, our school musical will be “Once Upon a Mattress” (the story of the Princess and the Pea) and auditions will be taking place later this month. Audition workshops will be held on September 7th and 8th, and the actual audition sessions will be on September 13th, 14th and 15th (for call backs).  Visit our Theatre Arts page for additional details and information.  

  • Our annual School Picture Day is scheduled for Wednesday, September 21st.  When we get closer to that date, we will send an order form home with students.  No need to prepare for it now, just wanted you all to know the date.  

Within the next week or two, our website will include a list of clubs and after school activities that are open for all students to join. We’re hoping to offer many of the same clubs and activities as previous years, along with some new offerings that emerge over the course of the year.  Additionally, RJ Grey is again partnering with the Marcus Lewis Tennis Center to offer an after school tennis program for interested students this Fall.  Please note that this club does involve a fee, and that space is limited due to available court space.  Click here to view the flyer, and click here for other relevant information.

Continuing with the subject of after school activities, I would like to ask families to please keep in mind RJ Grey’s After School Building Access policy.  This policy was included with the summer mailing sent home to families and explained to students during our opening assemblies.  As you make plans with your child for after-school activities and arrangements, please take a moment to review the policy which also includes information about Library access and usage.  A friendly reminder to families that you should also work directly with your children on communicating their whereabouts after school has ended.  

Finally, Back to School Night will be on Thursday, September 22nd- save the date!  On that evening, we ask parents to vote for two 7th grade parent/guardian representatives who will serve on this year's School Council.  The School Council is comprised of 4 parents, three RJ Grey staff members, and yours truly. The role of the School Council is to review and discuss various aspects of the school's activities and goals, and offer advice and guidance about different topics that may emerge during the year.  The Council will meet seven times this year, on Monday evenings (October 5 being the first one).  We are again looking for two 7th grade parents to serve a two-year term.  If you are a 7th grade parent interested in serving on the Council, please submit a short paragraph about yourself by noon on Monday, September 19th for the ballot. Write-ups can be sent to me at  

Have a great week, everyone.  Welcome back.