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Grey Matters, June 11, 2018; Volume 6, Number 38

posted Jun 10, 2018, 7:22 AM by Andrew Shen

Hi Everyone,


We recently we had our last round of Everyday Leaders, bringing our total number of students recognized this year through this effort to a little over 60. During my lunch last Thursday with the 8th grade Everyday Leaders I took advantage of the moment and asked them a barrage of questions on an issue that still dominates my household.  I am of course talking about Fortnite.  I recently shared with families some articles about the Fortnite phenomenon, and since then I have carved out a few moments to ask my oldest son about the game that seems to have a hold on his attention.  So my questions to the group of 8th graders in my office were asked as part of my “trust but verify” approach to what had previously been shared with me at home.  One of the more disappointing aspect of gaming (I think this extends to most multiplayer games) that the students confirmed for me is that only one individual can play on a console at a time.  So unless you have more than one gaming console and a separate television set up in the room, “playing” with and “spending time” with your friends playing these games means that you are physically apart and likely each in your respective homes as you connect virtually (and through the headset glued to my son’s head).  I didn’t realize the days of my friends and I playing Legends of Zelda together are specks in the rearview mirror.  This is an issue I’ve been giving a bit of thought to as we approach the summer months and my goal of creating conditions in our home that push our children to situations that involve human contact and unstructured time with friends and contemporaries.  Back to our Everyday Leaders for a moment, congratulations (and thanks for the insight about Fortnite and the conversation in general) to Ryan Brady, Eli Jarsky, Avery Mathews, Djeana Timas, Sarah Verner, Ofri Eizman, Ashwin Krishnamurthy, Sid Chatrath, Vanessa Conley, and Dominic Flumo.  


A few quick and friendly reminders about the next two and a half weeks:


Does your child have an RJ Grey Library book or old textbook buried under some

laundry?  Teachers will begin the process of collecting textbooks and other learning

materials, so anything you can do to help unearth these items would be greatly

appreciated (and save you some money).  Also, for families who might have a negative

balance in their child’s lunch account, please be sure to reconcile that matter as well.  If

you have questions about your lunch account, feel free to email Kirsten Nelson at

knelson@abschools.org


The end-of-year field trips are on June 26th. Both 7th graders and 8th graders will

return from their respective trips before 2:06pm so they can take the buses home or be

picked up by families.  If your student is not planning on attending school for some or all

of that final week, please call or email Katy Frey (kfrey@abschools.org).  


The District’s Late Bus service will be ending on Friday, June 22 (meaning that the last

run will be on that Friday).  There will be NO late bus service on June 25, 26, or 27.  We

are pleased that the Late Bus service was consistently used by students at both the

Junior High and High School, and looking forward to offering it again next year.  


Our 7th Grade Dance is this Friday, June 15 from 7:00pm to 9:00pm in the gymnasium, and then the 8th Grade End of Year Dance/Celebration is the following Friday, June 22 from 7:00pm to 9:30pm in the cafeteria.  Many thanks to the parents and guardians who have volunteered their time and/or made donations towards these two events.  As we approach these two events, we certainly want to focus on the celebratory aspects, and our goal of having an event where students can enjoy themselves and spend a bit of time with classmates and friends.  Part of our preparation does require a bit of attention to rules and expectations for these events, and homeroom teachers will be reviewing some of those guidelines later this week. As we get ready to share an overview of those rules, I am again reminded of the This American Life episode from 2011 that included a feature on middle school dances and an interview with two students who were perplexed by the “no petting” rule that their school emphasized before the dance, and wondering “do people sit at dances and pet other people? That’s weird.”  We have not codified a “No Petting” rule at RJ Grey, but we would ask students and families to keep in mind reasonable expectations about behaviors on the dance floor (let’s avoid lifting classmates into the air, pushing/shoving/chasing) and at the event in general (staying within designated areas). Please also note that only current RJ Grey students are allowed to attend, and guests from other schools are not permitted.  Additionally, students need to attend school the day of the dance/celebration in order to particulate in the event later that evening. For parents and guardians, we ask you to please arrange a pick-up plan where students will be off-campus no later than 15 minutes after the dance.  We are fortunate that we have many staff members who have volunteered to chaperone these events and I want to make sure that we respect their time and desire to get home at a reasonable hour.  


The last reminder that students will receive this week about the upcoming dances is about school expectations and restrictions related to, among other things, possession and use of nicotine and e-cigarettes.  Earlier this year I introduced to families through Grey Matters an emerging trend called vaping (also referred to as “juuling”) - which involves the use of electronic cigarettes.  As part of that introduction, I included a link to a Boston Globe article that offered a concise description of vaping and the challenges that exist because of how the new technology is more readily available and easier to mask (they look like thumb drives).  The use of e-cigarettes is growing in prevalence amongst teens across the country and there are more indications that we aren’t immune to this trend at RJ Grey and we’re going to need to partner with families to address this issue more aggressively.  My sense is that amongst the student population, there’s a good bit of talk about how prevalent vaping might be within the school. While my gut tells me it’s not as high as some of the chatter has suggested, I don’t doubt that usage has increased within certain social circles and it’s definitely a situation that demands our attention in the months ahead.  Plans for offering more education to families, students and staff about vaping/e-cigarettes is written in bold red letters on the whiteboard in my office, and it’s a project we’ll be working on this summer. Parents, guardians and schools will need to find effective ways to disrupt the belief by adolescents that these activities are safe and risk-free endeavors.  Unfortunately, our plans will also need to include identifying options related to any possible methods for detecting use of these products at school and clarifying for everyone the consequences and disciplinary outcomes that might be involved.  In the meantime, I would ask parents and guardians to consider reading the Globe article I referenced above, familiarize yourself with this trend, and engage your child in a conversation about it.


Finally, we had our most recent edition of Poetry Friday at the end of last week, and it was another piece written by an RJ Grey student, this time 8th grader Kyra McCraken who read “The Kid at the Back of the Class.”  Many thanks to Kyra for sharing her writing with the school last Friday.  


Have a great week, everyone.


Cheers,

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