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Grey Matters, April 30, 2018; Volume 6, Number 32

posted Apr 29, 2018, 7:08 AM by Andrew Shen

Hi Everyone,

I have another parent confession to make.  I am glad that all of my kids enjoy participating in organized sports and there are moments within the Fall and Spring sports seasons when I’m not exactly devastated to get an email or text that announces that one or more of my childrens’ practices or games is canceled due to poor weather conditions.  I may have even, at different times, performed a rain dance to encourage stronger precipitation and a few claps of thunder. As much as I have accepted my second job as an Uber driver for my kids and their teammates, criss-crossing around town and around the greater Boston area can take its toll on one’s well-being.  The weather-related challenges this Spring, however, have been unique in its impact on outdoor sports so our family welcomed this past Saturday’s perfect weather with open arms even if it meant that five different sporting events (including a few doubleheaders) were on the docket. My oldest son’s soccer team had their first game of the season without having had a single practice, and four more make-up games to schedule.  My youngest son’s soccer team had a different challenge on Saturday, in the form of a 3rd grade team from Acton-Boxborough that ran roughshod over them in the second half (we’ll get our revenge in three years when members of that team arrive at RJ Grey). On the subject of schedules and plans that have been complicated by this year’s weather, I want to make sure that our families have an understanding of what the end of our school year looks like in terms of plans and activities.  With the last day of school now scheduled for Wednesday, June 27, we are aware of the dilemma this creates for families who may have made significant plans for that week that involve travel, camps, or other family activities that are difficult to re-schedule.  This is clearly a fluke of a year where numerous snow days has created an unintended collision of commitments. With that in mind, I want to share with you an overview of the final days of school so you can make informed decisions about any conflicts that may be before you.  




June 22


8th Grade End of Year Dance/Celebration

(evening event)

June 25


Class Wrap Up (class/team activities, returning books, etc.)

7th and 8th Grade Variety Show (student talent show)

June 26


Class Field Trips

7th Grade - Kimball Farms

8th Grade - Canobie Lake

June 27


Yearbook Distribution

End-of-Year Assembly

Early Release (10:40am)

By the last week of school (June 25 through June 27), our core academic plans will have been completed, and we’ll be shifting to our traditional end-of-year programming and activities.  These activities lead up to our End-of-Year Assembly that serves as a “capstone” school event where we acknowledge a number of year-long achievements, celebrate a good year with a bit of music and speeches, and close with a slideshow that includes photos from events throughout the year.  For me, the events throughout those last few days of school, and then the assembly, are important ways to conclude the year as a community. So if students and families are able to make adjustments to their summer plans and finish the year with us, I think it’s worth the effort. However, I also want to be up front about our plans for that week so families who are facing some hard choices can decide what makes the most sense for them.  If your child signed up for a special program or camp out of state (as one example) that starts that Monday and you make the decision to prioritize that opportunity, I don’t think that’s at all an irresponsible choice and would understand that rationale. I hope the above information helps.

Here are some reminders and updates for the next few weeks:

RJ Grey’s StageWorks theatre program is preparing for its Spring Play performance of

“Zink: The Myth, The Legend, The Zebra.”  Performances will take place on Thursday,

May 10 and Friday, May 11 at 7pm in the Dragonfly Theatre here at RJ Grey, with tickets

being sold at the door ($8 for adults, $5 for students).  

Interim reports for this current Spring Trimester will likely be sent via email on or around Tuesday, May 8.  If your child receives one or more from his/her teachers and you have any questions about those interims, please start a dialogue with your child’s teacher.  

A friendly reminder for families whose children participate in our Band, Strings and Chorus programs.  The Spring concerts are coming upon us.  The Band’s Spring concert is scheduled for Tuesday, May 15 at 7pm, and the Chorus and Strings Spring concert is scheduled for Tuesday, May 22 at 7pm.  Please stay tuned for updates from your kids and/or Mr. Hickey (band), Ms. Green (Strings) or Mr. Charig (chorus) about details for those evening festivities.  

This week we take a pause on MCAS testing and then the following week we move to the Mathematics portion with 8 Gold and 8 Green scheduled for that Monday and Tuesday.  7th grade students will take the Math portion of the MCAS between May 15 and May 18. Students who are absent on days where they are scheduled to participate in MCAS testing will be scheduled for make-ups during the following week.  Here again is the MCAS schedule.  A friendly reminder to please help your child get some nourishment in the morning before they leave for school.  

Hopefully many of you are familiar with our District’s ongoing efforts to explore and expand definitions of success, and including efforts related to stress, homework and workload, sleep, parental expectations, academic goals and integrity, and extracurricular commitments.  Starting in 2016, we’ve partnered with Challenge Success, a Stanford-based organization that supports schools in their efforts to wrestle with hard topics and choices that many schools face in this day and age.  As part of this partnership with Challenge Success, all of our students in grades 6 through 12 completed in Spring of 2016 a survey that covered the topics listed above and provided a baseline of information regarding our students’ experiences and concerns.  From that initial data set, we were provided information on a number of topics, one of which was homework. The responses from the students gave us the confidence to feel that overall, our students’ experiences with nightly homework and workload was in a place that was comfortable for us. That’s not to say there still weren’t areas of growth and change to consider, but that our efforts up to that point were moving the dial in the direction we wanted. Specifically that a significant percentage of students reported spending no more than 1.5 hours on homework on average, with many students reporting closer to an hour.  We feel that’s a healthy place to be -- where students are asked to engage in academic work outside of class, but not to the point where workload creates what would feel like a second shift of school. Now that we are two years removed from that data set, we are planning to collect updated information from our current students about their homework and workload experiences at RJ Grey.  We know that as we continue to try new things in our classrooms, incorporate new materials and objectives, and engage with different groups of students, it’s helpful to collect updated information and see if there have been any substantive changes within this part of the student experience at RJ Grey. This week, all students will be asked to complete a short (about 10 minutes) survey about homework and workload.  The questions mirror the Challenge Success questions in 2016, but limited to the ones about homework and workload, which will allow for some comparisons. We also added a question about access to computers and the internet at home, and a chance for students to share things that teachers and teams do that help them with their schoolwork, and suggestions they’d like us to consider. I’m looking forward to reviewing the responses with staff and families.  

Finally, this past week I met with our fifth group of Everyday Leaders, who joined me for some pizza and conversation, as the students caught me up on how the school year has gone.  Congratulations to the following students whose teachers included them in this cohort of Everyday Leaders: Lexie Kepner, Jackson Sullivan, Colin Martineau, Maura Hashem, Connor Sheehan, Krish Surapuraju, Emily Hiltunen, Melissa Torres, Isaac Han, and Joshua Jeon.  

Have a great week, everyone.