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Grey Matters, March 20, 2017; Volume 5, Number 27

posted Mar 19, 2017, 12:31 PM by Andrew Shen   [ updated Jul 18, 2017, 11:09 AM by James Marcotte ]

Hi Everyone,

For those of you who were pleased that we had a snow day last Tuesday, my guess is that you’re under 18 years of age and perhaps had a quiz or a test that was originally scheduled for that day.  My wife’s students had a long-term research paper due that day and they all received a much-appreciated extension because of the weather. I’m happy for everyone who benefited from the day off and I look forward to seeing them all on Thursday, June 23rd, which is now the scheduled last day of school for the year (how’s that for bursting everyone’s bubble).  I will acknowledge that I may be a bit cranky from the day, partially because of what happened to my mailbox that evening (see photo to the right).  I now join the fraternity of homeowners who have experienced the demise of a perfectly fine mailbox at the hands of a snowplow, and will have to wait until we truly enter Spring before I can actually replace the post.  And to add insult to injury, having a snow day on March 14 means that our school missed out on Pi Day (3/14) and all of the fanfare and hoopla that comes on that day.  To the credit of the 8th grade math teachers, they made up for it the next day as I saw Ms. Kelly coming in early that morning with boxes of mini blueberry and chocolate cream pies to assist in the celebration.  The Colorado Rockies (a major league baseball team), however, took home the prize for most clever Pi Day tribute with this photo posted on their team Twitter page.  I did discover later on that the numbers were photoshopped, but the gesture was nonetheless a clever one and, as the Washington Post stated, a “delightfully nerdy” photo to celebrate the day.  

Here are some useful reminders and updates for you to review for the upcoming weeks:

  • Report cards for the Winter Trimester went home with students last Thursday.  If your child’s report card is for some reason missing in action, you might want to ask him/her about it. If he/she reports that it got lost in transit or perhaps spontaneously combusted, let me know and we can generate another copy for you.  

  • The Signs of Suicide (SOS) lessons will be delivered this week, Monday through Thursday - one 7th grade team each day.  Thank you for sending in your consent forms indicating the level of participation for your child.  Two important reminders:  (1) any student whose family did not submit a consent form will participate in the lesson, but not the screening tool; and (2) any family whose son/daughter does have a follow up conversation with a counselor or staff member from Riverside Trauma Center will be contacted.  There will be some students who are asked to meet with a counselor simply to provide feedback about what they thought of the lesson, and we will let their parents know of that conversation as well.  

  • We have students at RJ Grey who have organized a drive to support Cradles to Crayons  with donations of gently used or new clothing and shoes to support programs that assist families that are homeless.  Please consider donating sizes infant to adult medium for clothing, and shoe sizes 0-10. The drive will start March 27th and go until April 6th, and bins will be located near the library entrance.  

  • There is an 8th grade dance being planned by the Student Council, and scheduled for Friday, April 7 from 7pm to 9pm. Stay tuned for announcements throughout that week for purchasing tickets.  Please note that this is separate from the annual end-of-year 8th grade celebration which is a more elaborate evening event in June.  

  • Don’t forget that Thursday, April 6 is the Junior High’s last early release day, where students are dismissed at 10:40am and staff remain to participate in professional learning.  

  • Poet Marie Howe, this year's Robert Creeley Award recipient, will read from her work at ABRHS on March 30. There will also be a community event the night before, March 29 at 7:30 p.m. in the ABRHS Auditorium. The evening event is free and open to all members of the community. For a brief introduction to Marie Howe and some of her work, visit

IMPORTANT REMINDER FOR 8TH GRADE FAMILIES: The parent portal for 8th grade families to begin registering for 9th grade courses at the High School opens tomorrow (Monday, March 20).  All students have had conversations with their current teachers about course and level recommendations.  If you’d like to review the presentation that was delivered to 8th grade students, you can view the powerpoint by clicking here.  As for the actual instructions for course registration, you can click here to view/download the directions for course selection.  You can also review the High School’s Program of Studies by clicking here.  I strongly recommend that all 8th grade families review the entirety of the directions - there is information about the process for override requests that must be followed (without exception) should you wish to pursue that route. Please note that families who might need assistance with accessing the portal should use the high school contact information that is listed at the top of the instruction sheet.  

For current 7th grade families, you will be receiving in the mail during the week of March 27 the scheduling/registration form regarding your child’s 8th grade year.  This form includes math level recommendations, confirmation of current world language choice, and a space to indicate preferences for Grey Block (when students take elective or have a study hall). I’ll send out some additional notes and reminders about this process at the start of that week.  

The tryout and sign-up schedule for our Spring Sports programs are all set.  Before I get into those details, a friendly reminder that our after school clubs and activities welcome new members throughout the year.  The Ping Pong Club is back in action, as is the Fit Club (email Katy Frey, to sign up for Fit Club), just to name a few.  For those who are interested in baseball, softball, girls volleyball or track, you can review the tryout and sign-up schedule by clicking here.  You can always go to the RJ Grey Athletics Page to review that information and also download Green Forms and athletic fee waiver request forms.  Please remember that no student may participate in tryouts without a valid/updated Green Form.  This is an MIAA regulation and no exceptions can be made.  

Finally, I hope by now most of you are at least somewhat aware that we have been studying our District’s long-term building needs, including the possibility of proposing the construction of a new school building and/or renovating existing school buildings. To this end, our District has recently been conditionally accepted for state funding for a school building project.  We are at a critical juncture where the School Committee is seeking input from the community about what might eventually be proposed. There are a series of meetings that have been planned starting with one tomorrow night at 7pm at Sargent Memorial Library in Boxborough.  Click here for a downloadable flyer that lists all of the forum dates.  Important questions such as how many schools should be used, the number of grade levels at each building, and whether an early childhood center should be included are part of this dialogue.  Shockingly, my request for a retractable and heated dome for the morning drop-off area in the Junior High parking lot was not included as part of this work.  Rest assured an online petition about that glaring absence will be forthcoming.  All kidding aside, this is the time to reflect on our long-term educational vision for our school community because we want the form (the school buidling) to fit the function (educating your children).  Your voice matters and I hope you’ll find an opportunity to participate.  

Have a great week, everyone.