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Grey Matters, November 28, 2016; Volume 5, Number 13

posted Nov 27, 2016, 10:25 AM by Andrew Shen   [ updated Jul 18, 2017, 11:11 AM by James Marcotte ]

Hi Everyone,

Welcome back from what I hope was an enjoyable and restful Thanksgiving vacation, where everyone perhaps had an opportunity to disconnect from what might typically occupy our days and mental headspace.  Before everyone went their separate ways last week, we held our traditional Thanksgiving assembly, which is always the first all-school gathering of the year.  As usual, this assembly featured and was led by our students, starting with our Student Council officers (Kam Narra, Ben Verner, Leeban Mohammed, and Thiviyan Satheesh).  Along with great performances (as usual) by students in both our Band and Chorus programs, we also had the inaugural performance from the nine students in our new String Ensemble program (see photo above).  They are a small but committed group of musicians who earned a well-deserved standing ovation from their peers and teachers.  Finally, our assembly featured speeches by three students who submitted entries for this year’s speech competition.  Many thanks to Lindsay Vaillancourt, Maggie Fernald, and Aidan Jones for their heartfelt words and reflections.  In my opening remarks at the start of the assembly I was tempted to offer some introductory praise to the student performers and speakers by noting that there were over 1,000 people (students and staff) currently in the gym and that public speaking/performance is usually at the top of annual surveys of what makes Americans nervous and anxious - check out this Washington Post article from 2014 (which also included heights, flying and… clowns).  However, in case one or more of our scheduled speakers/students hadn’t fully realized the size of the audience, I didn’t want to highlight that fact right before things got started.  So now that the assembly is over and the students were all marvelous, kudos to all of them for their words and performances in front of an audience that size - not an easy thing for anyone at any age.  

Selfishly I’d like to enjoy the remainder of this fairly short break from school, so the remainder of this week’s Grey Matters will be focused on highlighting some useful reminders about the next few weeks.  

The annual school musical is this week!  I’m really excited for Once Upon a Mattress and I’ve purchased my ticket for Friday evening’s performance.  Including Friday’s performance, there are five performances scheduled for Thursday, December 1 (7pm), Friday, December 2 (7pm), Saturday, December 3 (2pm and 7pm), and Sunday, December 4 (2pm).  Tickets are $15 and are now available in the Junior High Main Office.  ABSAF holders are entitled to two free tickets and must pick up their tickets from the Main Office.  Tickets are also available at Donelan’s in Acton, and Red, White and Brew in West Acton.

An important reminder about Michelle Icard’s visit to our community this Thursday!  On Thursday, December 1 Acton-Boxborough will be hosting Michelle Icard, author of Middle School Makeover.  Michelle is a member of NBC Education Nation’s parenting team as well as a regular contributor national and local media, including the TODAY Show.  She presents to communities about various factors that often influence the “tween” years and providing practical guidance that can support both kids and parents as they navigate this stage of adolescence. Michelle suggests that her talk is best geared to parents, guardians and teachers of children in grades 4 through 8.  The event will be held in the High School Auditorium at 7pm this Thursday.  As I mentioned a few weeks ago, this event is on the same night as the first performance of the Junior High’s musical, so if you go to Michelle Icard on Thursday, you can then bring your whole family to one of the shows on Saturday or Sunday!  This event is free to the public and sponsored by Danny’s Place Youth Services and the ABRPTSO as part of this year’s Family Learning Series.  

Tryouts for our Winter Sports get under way this week.  Please review the Athletics Website for information and click here for each team’s specific tryout schedule.  Cheerleading is a “go” for this season, as we were able to find a coach, so please be sure to check the schedule that’s recently been posted for that program (it starts on Tuesday, December 6).  Please remember that the process for requesting a waiver for the athletics fee changed last year, and requests and questions should be submitted to the Athletic Director’s office.  

A friendly reminder that our first round of Parent-Teacher conferences are scheduled for Thursday, December 15.  Families who requested conferences have begun hearing back from Katy Frey or Anne Spalding with confirmation of their conference schedule.  

RJ Grey Yearbooks will be on sale starting Monday, November 28th through Saturday, January 19th.  Our book this year, Out of Our Minds, consists of 70+ colored pages full of 7th and 8th graders participating in clubs, sports, special events, survey responses, silly pictures, and everything in between!  Please note that students MUST order a book by January 19th if they want to receive one in June.  The cost of the book is $37 and can be ordered one of two ways:  (Way One) If you go online, go to this link and find our school’s ordering page by plugging in our school ID: 13545.  When you get directed to our school’s page, click the “buy a yearbook” option on the left and then (1) put in the quantity and click “buy these items”; (2) click “buy these items for a student” and type in the name; (3) pay by credit card and then save your email receipt for record purposes.  (Way Two) Students may also go the more traditional route and order a yearbook with cash or check made out to RJ Grey.  They should bring payment to Ms. Weeks in Room 406 or to the Main Office.  Important:  Please make sure to include a note with the student’s name, grade and homeroom teacher’s name.  

If the cost of the yearbook presents a financial hardship for your family, please do not hesitate to contact us and we can have a discrete and simple conversation, and we always make things work.  I’d like to use the launch of yearbook orders to offer a general but important reminder to all families that we never want the cost of any school-related program or activity to prevent a student from fully accessing important school programs or experiences. It is inevitable that we will need to attach a fee to some programs, trips, or optional things that are “extra” and if there are moments when cost does present a dilemma for your family, I hope you’ll feel comfortable reaching out to your child’s counselor and/or Assistant Principal who will be happy to work with you on a solution.  

A special note specifically for Boxborough families of 8th grade students.  If you and your child are interested in exploring technical school options for next year, please contact your child’s counselor.  With the town of Boxborough withdrawing from the Minuteman Regional School District there is a different process and menu of options for Boxborough residents (and those details can be more clearly explained verbally).  

Finally, our most recent edition of Poetry Fridays was held on November 18th, the Friday previous to Thanksgiving Break.  Mr. Marc Lewis, Social Studies teacher on 7 Green, was our guest reader and he shared with our school the poem “Discrimination” by Adelaide Rhead.  Click here if you’d like to read the poem.  

Have a great week, everyone.  Welcome back.