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Grey Matters, January 22, 2018; Volume 6, Number 20

posted Jan 21, 2018, 6:30 AM by Andrew Shen

Hi Everyone,

You can rest easy knowing that delivery of Grey Matters each week will not be affected by the current government shutdown.  It wasn’t listed in most of the articles that outlined what would and wouldn’t be impacted by the shutdown, so I thought I’d provide everyone with assurances that you can count on Grey Matters being written almost as much as you can count on Tom Brady playing in this afternoon’s AFC Championship game. You’ll be getting this newsletter a few hours after the start of the game, so there is always the possibility that this mysterious hand injury of Mr. Brady’s had a bigger impact on the game than anyone first predicted.  I haven’t seen this much interest and intrigue in a person wearing a glove since Michael Jackson’s Thriller days and, more notoriously, during the O.J. Simpson trial in the 1990s.  Last year I devoted quite a few paragraphs within Grey Matters to Tom Brady, primarily because he and I were both turning 40 and I was making some observations about the differences between the physical condition of his body (ageless wonder) and the condition of mine (I struggle to reach my knees when stretching).  As I neared my 40th birthday, the Boston Globe also published an article about how the biggest threat to middle aged men isn’t obesity, it’s loneliness which is when I first started paying some attention to this topic.  I am revisiting it now because I recently came across a series of articles and studies that examined this issue quite seriously (the Globe article was a bit more casual in tone) and making arguments not only about the connection between loneliness and physical health, but also to workplace culture, mental health, and addiction. Former Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy is devoting his time to addressing the toll of loneliness, and last Fall published a piece in the Harvard Business Review entitled, “Work and the Loneliness Epidemic”.  Last Wednesday, the United Kingdom created the first Minister of Loneliness (seriously), to pursue policy and practices that combat “the sad reality of modern life.”  My purpose in highlighting this subject isn’t so I can create a streak of sobering newsletters, but instead to offer a brief glimpse at topics that have some connection,  to our discussions about the habits and skills we hope to help our children develop over time.  I can’t help but wonder about the role and impact of technology on this issue of loneliness, especially in terms of how it has altered the way our kids understand norms for interacting with other humans and how to develop meaningful connections. More importantly, what a meaningful connection looks like.   Anyway, some food for thought as I wait for this afternoon’s kickoff between the Patriots and Jaguars.  

Here’s some updates and reminders for the next few weeks:

  • Because of the snow day, Yearbook sales have been extended through tomorrow, January 22.  Instructions for how to order a copy can be found by clicking here.

  • Last week I provided an introduction to a community screening of the documentary film Screenagers.  I have since learned that given the high interest in the event, the screening has been moved from March 8 to March 29, still at 7pm, but now in the Junior High Auditorium.  Click here for more information and to register for the event.

  • Our school district is currently going through its annual process for building a proposed budget for the following school year (2018-2019) and presenting it to the School Committee and the community at-large.  Superintendent McAlduff has already made a few initial presentations that outline include the requests for new positions and programs that we’d like to include as part of next year’s budget.  Our efforts to provide the budget story for next year always culminates in Budget Saturday, which is a daylong presentation to the School Committee that includes details of the proposed budget and reasons behind new requests.  Budget Saturday will be this coming Saturday, January 27 from 8:30am to 2:30pm in the Junior High Library and is open to the public.  

  • Many thanks to those involved with organizing and supervising last Friday’s Summer Fun in Winter event!  We had a lot of students attend the event, and many seemed to enjoy themselves.  Ms. Ahl and the Student Council officers put a great deal of work into the preparations, and thanks also to the many parents who donated food.

  • A friendly reminder to families that we have our next early release scheduled for Thursday, February 8.  This will be a professional learning session for staff, and students will be dismissed at 10:40am.  Please plan accordingly.  

  • Our Exploratory rotation (i.e. Art, Music/Drama, Minuteman Tech, Digital Literacy) will be switching at the end of this week. Students were enrolled in two of the four Exploratories for the first half of the year, and now they will switch to the other two for the remainder of the school year.  

  • Some of you may be familiar with the NPR show “From the Top” a radio program that showcases and celebrates young musicians.  Because one of our current students will be performing during the February 11 taping at Jordan Hall (at the New England Conservatory), I had a quick conversation with the staff at From the Top who shared with me that there are usually free tickets available for students.  Knowing that we have many families who are involved in the performing arts, I wanted to pass along ticket information for those who might have an interest.  To purchase tickets and to claim free student tickets, visit or contact Austin Boyer at or 617.437.0707 x128. As the show is recorded for distribution, it is recommended for children ages 7 and up.

This is a reminder to 7th grade families that we will be starting our Signs of Suicide (SOS) lesson and screening tool to 7th grade teams.  The lesson will be delivered tomorrow (Monday) to 7 Red students, and then to 7 Gold students on Wednesday the 24th.  Students on 7 Blue and 7 Green will participate the following week on the 29th and 31st.  Also, a final reminder that

the Eliot Community Human Services will conduct a suicide prevention workshop for members of our adult community on Monday, January 29 from 6:30pm to 8:30pm, also in our Junior High Library.  QPR - Question, Persuade and Refer is a community-wide program that teachers the warning signs of suicide and an effective emergency response. You can click here for a downloadable flyer and if you are interested in attending, please contact Dr. Deborah Garfield at  

Last week I provided 8th grade families a “save the date” note about the event on February 8 for 8th grade parents that will provide information about the transition to the High School.  A few more pieces of clarification for those planning to attend:  this particular event is geared towards parents and guardians, not for the 8th graders themselves. Also, please know that the event will be from 7pm to 8:30pm (at the High School).  In early March, the 8th graders will participate in a series of workshops that provide them with a comprehensive overview of course registration, requirements, and opportunities.  

We had our latest round of Everyday Leaders take place last week. I spent a good deal of time last week in meetings with adults, so having lunch with this group of students was a welcome change of pace for me (hopefully it was fun for them too).  Congratulations to this group of Everyday Leaders: Claire Fallica, Adi (Aditya) Raman, Tyler Clayton, Sean Nelson, Walker Pasalis, Royson Anton, Gabrielle Carlson, Amelia Bohling, Lily Fanton, Mikayla Barrett, and Cole Saucier.  

Finally, we had our latest installment of Poetry Fridays at the end of last week, with Mr. Malloy offering us a reading of the poem “Buffalo Evening” by Robert Creeley.  Click here if you’d like to read the poem as well.  

Have a great week, everyone.