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Grey Matters, March 12, 2018; Volume 6, Number 26

posted Mar 11, 2018, 12:28 PM by Andrew Shen

Hi Everyone,

There is a United Airlines non-stop flight (Flt 319) from Boston to San Francisco departing tomorrow morning at 9:00am.  I haven’t bought a ticket for that flight, but it’s tempting and if I’m not in school tomorrow you’ll have a sense of where I might be instead.  Granted, I have no place to stay once I land which is a minor complication at this point, but at least I won’t have to keep looking out my window and seeing scenes similar to the one in the photo to the right.  While we unfortunately lost a few trees in last week’s snowstorm, I need to recognize and be thankful that our family was on the much luckier end of things given that we didn’t lose power to our home at any point last week.  A significant percentage of families in our home town (Sudbury) and here in Acton and Boxborough, along with my parents in Andover, were without power for multiple days and had to scramble around for alternate accommodations.  It sounds like there may still be a handful of families in our communities who are still without power.  If you are one of them, please don’t hesitate to let us know and we’ll work with the teachers to be flexible about schoolwork that might still need to be completed.  Our last day of school is, as of today, now scheduled for Monday, June 25.  Once things have settled down a bit here at school and we’re back into a more predictable rhythm, we’ll take a look at our schedule of year-end events (field trips, assemblies, dances) and see if we need to make any adjustments given that we’re starting to creep into that part of June where school and summer activities start to collide more frequently.  We’re also going to wait a bit to explore possible adjustments because of the reports indicating that we’re likely due for another bout of snow this Tuesday and it’s unclear what impact it could have on school for that day.  If we need to prepare for another delay, cancellation or early release, you’ll hear from Superintendent McAlduff about those plans.  

Here’s some updates and reminders, including things that may have been affected by last week’s snow days/early dismissals:

Winter Trimester report cards were originally scheduled to be emailed to families this

Wednesday.  At this point, the earliest we would have them available is Friday, and it

may be Monday depending on a few variables.  Thanks for your patience.

We will also need a few more days to finalize the tryout and meeting schedule for

Spring interscholastic sports - baseball, softball, and girls volleyball (which may also be affected by the snow currently sitting on the ground and when the fields for baseball/softball will be available).  I can confirm that students interested in the Spring Track program should plan to attend a meeting on Thursday, March 22 at 2:30pm in the Junior High auditorium.  At this meeting the coaches will provide an overview of the season, distribute important paperwork, and review expectations attached to the two levels of participation that I outlined in last week’s Grey Matters.  For the other sports, my hope is to have the tryout schedule available and posted on our school website by next Monday, if not at the end of this week.  In the meantime, please make sure your child has completed and submitted a Green Form (medical form) that has been reviewed and approved by the nurse.  

The annual March Madness basketball tournament obviously did not take place last

Friday. We will connect with the Student Council officers and advisor and see what

options are available for re-scheduling.  

A friendly reminder that the R.J. Grey Junior High yearbook is offering you the chance to

send your love, pride and congratulations to the graduating 8th grade student in your life. Please click on the link for instructions on how to submit an ad.  Family Ad Instructions.   The deadline to submit an ad is -- tomorrow Monday March 12.

Don’t forget about the community screening of the documentary film Screenagers which is now scheduled for 7pm on March 29 at the Junior High Auditorium.  Click here for more information and to register for the event.

I mentioned last week that on Monday, March 19 the portal for current 8th grade students to register for high school courses will be open. Before that time, students will have met with their current teachers to discuss course recommendations for next year.  As you prepare to work with your 8th grade student on his/her/their choices for next year, please be sure to review the materials that have been made available to you and them.  You can review the slides that our counselors used in their presentation by clicking here.  A timeline for this process can be found on our school’s Counseling Office web page which you can access here.  In addition to those resources, families should review all of the following documents: (1) the High School Program of Studies, which includes details about course requirements and guidelines; (2) the list of 9th grade electives for 2018-2019; and (3) directions for electronic course selections.  Please note that families who might need assistance with accessing the portal should use the high school contact information that is listed at the top of the instruction sheet.  

Last week was National Foreign Languages Week!  Before our time at school was interrupted by the snow, we were able to celebrate each morning with a different student offering a greeting to the school in a different language.  Thank you to Kayvon Touserkani (Farsi), Ian Ryan (German) and Emi Fung (Japanese) for making each morning a little more special with their messages of welcome. We look forward to capping off our planned celebrations with Saar Deschepper (Dutch) tomorrow morning, and closing with Song Leav and Ofri Eizman offering a Poetry Friday (delivered on Tuesday) poem in Spanish.  During the week these students also read/will read a trivia question in English about languages spoken around the world, and members of our Spanish Club have been selling pulseras (bracelets) that are handmade in Nicaragua and 100% of proceeds are returned to the artisans to fund various needs in their communities. Many thanks to the students and their World Language teachers for organizing this celebration.  

Assuming that we don’t get any additional surprise snowstorms in April, we begin our MCAS testing this year on Monday, April 9.  Last year we began the process of shifting to a computer-based testing platform with the 8th grade MCAS assessments, which means that students review questions and submit responses via computer (in our case, on one of our many Chromebooks).  This year, both 7th and 8th grade MCAS assessments will be computer-based. Rest assured that we will be giving our students in both grades some training on how to engage with the computer-based testing platform prior to April 9.

As we get closer to the MCAS testing dates, I will be sharing more information about how we organize the testing days (and constant reminders to make sure your kids eat a good breakfast), along with some thoughts about the role MCAS should, and shouldn't, play in the academic lives of our students.  In the meantime, here is a link to the MCAS schedule for the Junior High.   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.

Have a great week, everyone.  Fingers crossed about Tuesday.