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Grey Matters, April 9, 2018; Volume 6, Number 30

posted Apr 8, 2018, 7:34 AM by Andrew Shen

Hi Everyone,

If you ever find yourself approached by a colleague and the first thing that colleague says to you is, “so, there’s a cookie in a urinal in the boys’ bathroom” then you might actually be attending a middle school dance.  We had about 220 8th grade students join us last Friday night for a fun Spring Fling social event in the gym. We hope everyone had a great time and enjoyed the opportunity to spend some time together that evening. While I also wouldn’t have minded spending that night lying on my couch, I was also glad that we ended a tough week in a more celebratory setting with a few hundred kids enjoying each others’ company.  Each year, when we host a school dance, I use it as an opportunity to encourage parents and guardians to spend ten minutes listening to one of my favorite episodes of the NPR program This American Life.  First aired in October of 2011, “Middle School” includes a number of stories about this particular stage of adolescence and schooling, including a hysterical look at middle school dances.  I don’t believe, however, there was any mention of cookies in urinal stalls.  This examination was not exactly a scientific study but certainly hit on some themes and concepts that ring true for many who remember those complicated adolescent years, and certainly for those who for some reason decided to make it the setting of their professional careers.  For me the best part of the section focusing on middle school dances is when two students were describing the rules and expectations that their school articulated to them in advance of a dance, some of which were shared as written guidelines that included, “No Petting.” To which the students expressed serious confusion wondering out loud, “do people sit at dances and pet other people? That’s weird.”  If you are interested in listening to this episode, click here.  

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 tomorrow - 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).  

This year’s MCAS testing begins tomorrow with students on 8 Gold and 8 Green taking the English/Language Arts portion.  Here again is a link to the RJ Grey-specific schedule for MCAS testing for April and May, and for both grades.   We hope you will encourage your kids to get a good night’s sleep before they are scheduled for an MCAS test day.  We of course hope you encourage a good night’s sleep every night, but maybe place additional emphasis on it knowing they’ll be taking some assessments that are longer than what they typically experience.  A good breakfast always helps, and we will have some snacks (goldfish) and water for everyone to have before the testing begins. 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.  

While we’ve been teased with signs that the Spring season may actually show its face in the near future, last Friday’s mini snow storm offered a moment of doubt.  Nevertheless, we continue to remain optimistic that warmer (and hopefully a bit drier) weather will be on its way, not only for the sake of our sports programs, but also for another growing season for our RJ Grey Community Garden.  Last year, we converted one of our inner courtyards into a space that is now the site of eight raised beds and will see the addition of a few more beds later this month.  Our very first harvest last year included mustard greens, lettuce, arugula, and spinach that were used for salads offered as part of the lunch options in the cafeteria last Spring, serving as our inaugural “farm to table” endeavor at RJ Grey.  We continue to think about different ways the garden can be incorporated into the curricular and extracurricular programs at our school, and excited about involving a wider range of students in both the care of the garden and the consumption of the food that’s grown.  

April Vacation is next week.  Please note that Friday is a full day of school.  If your travel plans involve your child missing some school we would appreciate your letting us know ahead of time so we can manage the attendance process a bit more easily.  Secondly, I wanted to continue offering a reminder and encouragement to use the vacation period to prioritize “playtime” and/or downtime for your kids. Remember, there’s no homework assigned over the vacation periods, and that’s so families can comfortably attend to other activities and interests.  There will also be almost 150 RJ Grey students who are visiting Washington D.C. during the first half of the April Vacation, and we hope everyone’s excited for an adventure that will include visiting famous monuments, memorials and museums that connect the ideas of our Founding Fathers to how our country works today (or at least how it’s supposed to work). Some, but not all, of the highlights of the trip will include a visit to the National Air and Space Museum, a walking workshop of Capitol Hill, a mock Congress debating timely political issues, and a visit to the new (and hard-to-get-tickets to) Museum of African American History.  Many thanks to Mr. Lewis (7 Gold Social Studies) for organizing this incredible trip, and to the many school staff who have offered to spend part of their April Vacation attending this school event. In addition, we are grateful to Dr. Bronson Terry and Mrs. Maureen Jones, parents who have graciously offered to provide medical supervision for our students.

Finally, we had our latest edition of Poetry Fridays at the end of last week.  With the D.C. trip in mind, Mr. Malloy offered a reading of the poem “Facing It” by American poet Yusef Komunyakaa.  Having served in the Vietnam war and earning a Bronze star, Mr. Komunyakaa wrote this piece to describe the emotions he felt upon visiting the Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C.  Click here if you’d like to read the poem.  

Have a great week and a nice April Vacation, everyone.