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Grey Matters, April 2, 2018; Volume 6, Number 29

posted Apr 1, 2018, 5:39 AM by Andrew Shen

Hi Everyone,

During my childhood and in my adult years, I’ve had the opportunity to be with, around and alongside my father on many occasions.  The fact that he and my mother have now lived in Andover for almost 45 years, and that I see anything west of Rt. 495 as frontierland and will likely never move far away (even to San Francisco), means that it’s relatively easy for us to continue getting together and spending time with each other.  I’ve seen my father and how he operates in different settings - from visiting his office when I was a kid, to socializing at their church, traveling overseas, and now

playing with my kids. And the accumulation of those moments have given me the confidence to predict how he may respond to other settings and situations.  However, nothing prepared me for this past weekend when my father asked me to accompany him to a few car dealerships with the goal of buying a new car. It was time to retire their 14-year old car as the odometer puttered towards 175,000 miles. I had never visited a car dealership with my dad and assumed that he wanted me to come with him to offer words of encouragement like a trainer would to a nervous boxer who returns to the corner after each round, or maybe even be the “tough guy” in the process.  Within ten minutes of our visit to the first dealership, I had no idea why he needed me there, and was busy trying to hide my look of surprise as the ice-in-the-veins poker-faced negotiator presented himself for all to see, and for a few salesmen to experience. I was both impressed and somewhat disoriented by the display and nervously waiting to see who would flinch first. At the end of the day, after visiting a few dealerships, we did not walk away with a new car and where I myself would have probably seriously debated caving, my dad just casually shrugged his shoulders, said “oh well, now I have more information, I’m in no rush” and then we left.  Truthfully, I think his current car may disagree with that lack of urgency, but I wasn’t going to argue with him after what I just witnessed.

While a completely different set of circumstances, I enjoyed reading about another moment where an individual was observed in a setting very different from their normal day-to-day role and circumstances.  During an NHL hockey game last Thursday, both goalies for the Chicago Blackhawks were/became injured and so they enlisted their emergency backup goalie who is a 36-year old accountant by the name of Scott Foster, and part of a small group of individuals who are non-professional athletes invited to attend games in the highly unlikely event that both of a team’s goalies are unavailable.  He then became an instant legend by stopping all seven shots he faced, and you can watch the highlights by clicking here.  On the subject of sports and the excitement that many derive from it, I’m excited for our students participating in our upcoming athletic programs to have a fun and enjoyable season. As we enter this Spring sports season, both at school and through community and club programs, I would encourage all of us (me included) to be continually mindful of how to be a supportive and thoughtful sports parent.  There is an intensity to youth sports today that can unfortunately dilute the many benefits that would typically be a part of the experience of being on a team and participating in lively competition.  Starting a few years ago, I have shared at the start of the Spring season an excerpt of a letter written by the father-in-law of a good friend to the players assigned to the Little League baseball team that he was assigned to coach in the Spring of 1977.  As we enter this next season of sports, I wanted to again share a portion of it in case it might resonate with you: “I do not care how many games you win or lose; I hope you win at least one game so that you and your teammates can experience the satisfaction of winning as a team, but I also hope you lose one so that you will experience the shared disappointment of a team loss...The purpose of the program is to give you and your teammates an opportunity to learn something about competition, sportsmanship and team play by actually playing on a baseball team, in the belief that, if well taught, the lessons learned on the baseball field will be valuable to you as you continue to grow up.”  

We finalized the tryout and sign-up schedule for our Spring Sports programs and you can view the tryout schedule by clicking here, and can also visit the Athletics Page on our website, which also includes the medical Green Forms and athletic fee waiver request form.  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.  

Here’s some updates and reminders for all of you:

Don’t forget that this Thursday, April 5 is the Junior High’s last early release day, where

students are dismissed at 10:40am and staff remain to participate in professional


I hope most families of current 8th grade students have visited the Parent

Portal to complete the registration process for 9th grade courses at the High School.  

Please remember that the portal closes tomorrow, Monday, April 2.  

Tickets are on sale in 8th grade homerooms for the upcoming spring dance which takes

place on Friday April 6th from 7:00 - 9:00 PM in the gym. Tickets are $5.00 each and will

not be sold at the door. The dance will feature a DJ and lots of great food. Tickets will be

sold through this Thursday, April 5th.

As we still have about nine weeks of school remaining, I want to remind everyone of the

Junior High’s Rise to the Challenge program, which is our way of recognizing student involvement in community service.  Students who complete 10 hours of service within the school year will be recognized for their efforts, and it’s definitely not too late to submit that information.  Please visit the community service page on our website that provides all the details for this program.  If you have any questions, please email Debbie Brookes at  

The next presentation in the Family Learning Series will take place on Tuesday, April 10, at 7:00 p.m. in the ABRHS  Auditorium. The topic is Movement, and the presenter is Anthony Rao, PhD. See the Family Learning Series page for more information.

A friendly reminder to our Acton families that Acton Town Meeting starts tomorrow - Monday, April 2 at 7pm in the High School auditorium.  Boxborough’s town meeting is scheduled for mid-May.  

Here’s another important reminder for current 7th grade families about 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. The registration forms need to be signed and returned to the Junior High by April 9.  For those who may consider an override request regarding math level placement, please make note of the process for doing so (which involves a separate form that can be picked up at the Junior High).  

One more week until we enter the season of MCAS testing.  This year we begin the 8th Grade English/Language Arts portion of the MCAS state assessments on Monday, April 9. Here again is a link to the RJ Grey-specific schedule for MCAS testing for April and May, and for both grades.

Congratulations to Jessica Chen who was named Artist of the Month for this March. In February I introduced this new program created by RJ Grey art teacher Holly Vlajinac as an opportunity for 7th and 8th Graders to have an authentic, juried art exhibition experience similar to the process in which professional artists participate.  Jessica and her artwork were chosen for the month of April and she is posing with one of her pieces in the photo to the right.  You can view more of Jessica’s work by clicking here.    If your child is absent for one of his/her testing dates, there are a number of make-up dates that we have already scheduled, and we will coordinate those make-ups with students.  As I mentioned in an earlier Grey Matters, MCAS this year will be computer-based for both 7th and 8th graders and we will continue to help students be prepared for that testing platform.

Finally, a Happy Easter to families who observe the holiday.  I hope whatever activities and gatherings were part of your celebration were enjoyable and meaningful  

Have a great week, everyone.