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Grey Matters, January 9, 2017; Volume 5, Number 18

posted Jan 8, 2017, 9:58 AM by Andrew Shen   [ updated Jul 18, 2017, 11:10 AM by James Marcotte ]

Hi Everyone,

I’m still pretty shaken from the “snowmageddon” that we experienced a few years ago but I was pretty comfortable and even somewhat pleased with the snowstorm we had this past weekend.  The snow was pretty light so clearing the driveway wasn’t too taxing, and there was enough accumulation where the kids could entertain themselves with a variety of activities.  Granted, I had a temporary moment of concern/curiosity when I saw my kids pushing our wheelbarrow towards the hill in the back of our yard because my kids are indeed the ones who would actually consider careening down a hill in a wheelbarrow and consider themselves geniuses for coming up with that plan.  Their daredevil-ish tendencies are also why we make each of them wear ski helmets whenever they go sledding despite some initial protests about that particular non-negotiable rule.  Having the opportunity to send them out into the snow also provided me a temporary reprieve from a recent tendency of my oldest son to offer me all sorts of critical “feedback” that he feels empowered to send my way because he generously starts it off with the qualifier, “Dad, no offense, but…..”  This expression appeared out of the blue (which probably means there’s a classmate at his school I have to thank for this) this week, and has been heard way too often, at least with me being on the receiving end. “Dad, no offense, but I really didn’t think the noodles you made me were that good.”  “Dad, no offense, but that decision you made to attack the Eastern United States (while playing the board game Risk) was really bad.”  I suppose when they all become teenagers and the unsolicited feedback is still offered without the “no offense” qualifier I’ll probably look back longingly at these moments.  

Here’s some updates and reminders to put on your radar:

  • We have no school next Monday, January 16 as it is the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.  

  • We have completed our parent-teacher conference sessions for the year.  The next early release day for the Junior High is Thursday, February 2 for a professional development session.  

  • The calendar for the 2017-2018 school year has been voted by the School Committee and is now available to view.  Please note that the early release schedule for the elementary schools (and to a lesser degree for the Junior High and High School) have not been finalized as part of this calendar.  But this current version does have dates for the start of school, holidays, and vacations.  Click here to view the calendar.  

  • Our anuual Summer Fun in Winter will take place on Friday, January 20th from 2:30-4:00. There will be a volleyball tournament, lots of food, music and prizes. All students may attend the event for $4.00. If you would like to enter a team consisting of 6 students, please pick up a form outside Room 327 and return it with payment to Ms. Ahl no later than Tuesday, January 10. Many thanks to our School Council for organizing this event.  

Before the start of last Thursday’s conferences we had our annual Staff Appreciation Luncheon which was hosted by our amazing PTSO.  Educators are no different when it comes to our stomachs being the quickest way into our hearts.  Par for the course, the food that was made and donated by our families was much appreciated and quickly consumed.  Many thanks to parent Elizabeth Bruce for taking on the coordination and planning of this event.  Additionally, much gratitude to Kate Imhoff, Linda Vittum, Anne-Marie Smith, Marie Klinkmueller, Zhu Xao, Angie Tso, Hong Ye, Kayo Aoki, and Kathleen Erikson who led the set-up and clean up process.  Finally, here is a very long list of the generous families who made this luncheon possible (and tasty).  

I want to provide everyone an update and reminder about our great extracurricular program that is available to students.  For those who have completed Fall activities that don’t continue into the Winter, there are all sorts of clubs and activities that students can always join as a new member.  You can see a description of most clubs by going to this page on our website.  We are continuing our Yoga Club and Fit Club programs, with the next round of Yoga beginning this Thursday, January 12 at 2:30 (until 3:30pm).  If your child is interested in participating, please email Katy Frey at, or have your child speak to Ms. Frey directly.  Last year we also started a wonderful Cooking Club program (which I affectionately call Iron Chef RJ Grey) led by our Health teacher Ms. Rimpas in partnership with staff in our Food Services Department.  This program will launch again soon and we’ll be sure to send out sign-up information given that space is limited due to safety considerations (i.e. supervision in our kitchen).  I am also pleased to share that this Winter we will be launching a Junior High version of the student group Common Ground.  Common Ground has been a longstanding student group at the High School that is AB’s version of a Gay/Straight Alliance (GSA).  Our efforts to create a Junior High version of this student group is motivated by thoughtful feedback we received from current high school students who shared with us how valuable this type of school group would have been during their time at RJ Grey. The addition of this group also contributes to our ongoing efforts as a school to develop and support space and opportunities for all of our students to feel connected, engaged and affirmed within our school community.  Led by two veteran teachers, Mr. Lewis and Ms. Berberian, Common Ground at RJ Grey will be a space for students to support one another and talk about issues that are important to them.  The goal will be to provide a safe place to socialize and create a comfortable and welcoming environment where students can build respect for LGBTQ people.  Details about meeting times and locations are still being finalized, and will be shared soon by the club’s advisors for those who may have an interest in attending.  

We’ve often talked about the benefits and challenges that accompany the increasing diversity of the Acton-Boxborough community, and how the demographics of our community continue to evolve in many ways including, but not limited to, socio-economic diversity and racial and cultural diversity.  To be sure, one prominent dimension of our changing demographics is the continued growth of our Asian American community.  This year our Asian and Asian American student population from Kindergarten through Grade 12 is well over 30% of our overall enrollment. Our school district is committed to expanding our work to include resources that support the experiences and needs that may be particular to specific groups within our larger community, including our Asian American students and families.  With this in mind, we are pleased to be adding another event to this year’s Family Learning Series featuring Dr. Josephine Kim, Ph.D.  On Monday, February 6, Dr. Kim will be visiting Acton-Boxborough and presenting “Let’s Talk! 

Bridging the Cultural Gap Between You and Your Child”.  Dr. Kim is a licensed mental health counselor who teaches at Harvard University, and is also on the faculty at the Center for Cross-Cultural Student Emotional Wellness at Massachusetts General Hospital.  Her research and practice focus on bridging the cultural gap between immigrant parents and their children, with a particular emphasis on Asian American families.  Through her presentation, Dr. Kim looks to create opportunities for parents and guardians to explore ways of promoting both the success and emotional well-being of their Asian American children.  Included in this dialogue will be an examination of intergenerational conflicts and varied perceptions and comfort with issues related to mental health. Dr. Kim plans to engage with the audience about how cultural expectations and differences manifest in daily interactions, and strategies for improving communication on these topics.  This event on Monday, February 6 will begin at 7pm in the High School Auditorium, and is open to parents/guardians and students in Grades 6 through 12 are also encouraged to attend.  Parents and guardians may of course come alone, and this is certainly appropriate for parents who have younger children, but not for those younger children to attend.  As one can tell from the description, the focus of this event is geared towards Asian and Asian American members our community. Nevertheless, this presentation is like all of our community events and open to everyone in Acton and Boxborough who may want to attend.  Many thanks to the Acton Chinese American Civic Society (ACACS) for co-sponsoring and partnering with the schools on this event.  I hope many of you will join me for this event.

Finally, we finished last week with another installment of Poetry Friday.  Ms. Vacca, 8 Orange English teacher, introduced the school to the poem Naming of Cats by T.S. Eliot.  Check it out if you’ve got a spare moment or two!  

Have a great week, everyone.