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Grey Matters, May 7, 2018; Volume 6, Number 33

posted May 6, 2018, 6:23 AM by Andrew Shen

Hi Everyone,

This past Saturday my parents and I drove together to one of Parker’s soccer games in the new car that my dad finally bought! I was not there when he finally signed on the dotted line at the car dealership, so I don’t know if he or the car salesman blinked first.  Anyway, that short trip to the soccer game also doubled as a stroll down memory lane when my dad’s music playlist reached Sunshine on My Shoulders, which was one of several John Denver songs my family sang during our trip to Acadia National Park in 1988.  I have mentioned in the past that while it’s not confirmed, it’s likely that our family of four accounted for about 40-50% of the Chinese American population in the state of Maine at the time, and definitely the only ones also belting out John Denver’s greatest hits.  While I was experiencing this brief This is Us-type flashback of my childhood, I started wondering what kinds of childhood memories my own children might recall thirty years from now.  I’m hoping that moments from our road trip last summer to Washington D.C. will be recalled, and maybe a few lazy days in the summers by our backyard pool.  What makes me nervous is that thirty years from now their reminiscing of this current time in our lives will be dominated by images from Fortnite.  Based on a combination of anecdotal evidence, and a bit of reading on my part, it sounds like a safe bet to assume that many of you are familiar with this video game that has spread like wildfire and according to a recent article on NPR, may be around for a long time and signaling a new era gaming culture (of which I know very little).  On the sidelines of one soccer game last week, there was a prolonged conversation amongst parents who were trying to figure out what exactly Fortnite is, who plays it, what it involves, and how to create and manage reasonable expectations around it.  For those of you who might be asking similar questions, I found this recent piece in the New York Times to be somewhat helpful in developing an introductory understanding to this game/culture, and a few entry points that I can use to ask my own son about his understanding and involvement with the game.  When this conversation takes place, I may have Mr. Denver playing softly in the background.

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

We are about to enter the final two weeks of MCAS testing (insert cheers, streamers,

and noisemakers here).  On Monday and Tuesday, 8 Gold and 8 Green will be

completing the Math portion of the MCAS, and then we shift to 8 Blue and 8 Red.  8th

grade students will also be taking the Science/Technology portion of the MCAS on either

Friday or Monday.  7th grade students will then start the Math MCAS the following

Tuesday the 15th.

Interim reports for this current Spring Trimester will likely be sent via email on Monday.  If your child receives an interim from a teacher please take a moment to review the comments and feedback.  If you have any questions about those interims, please start a dialogue with your child’s teacher.

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 this 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).  

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.  

On Friday, May 18, we will be taking the annual 8th Grade class photo.  This is a

panoramic photo that we take outside on the hill by the football field.  Order forms will

be distributed to 8th grade within the next week or so. If you have any questions or

need any sort of financial assistance, please contact David Lawrence at  Please know that we are very committed to never letting

finances interfere with any student’s ability to fully participate in these types of school

events or “keepsakes”, and want everyone to enjoy these moments without having to

think twice about potential financial impact.  

I want to be sure to acknowledge the upcoming start of Ramadan, which for our Muslim classmates, neighbors and friends will begin the evening of May 15 and continue through mid-June.  Thank you to the students and families who have taken a moment to share with us their experiences and what, for them, serves as the most important and impactful aspects of Ramadan. Last year, a few of our students who were fasting during Ramadan had conversations with teachers about options and choices for their daily lunch period.  There will be some students who are fasting who may still want to be in the cafeteria so they can spend some downtime with their friends. For students who would prefer to be in a space other than the cafeteria, a few teams have started to identify some supervised rooms that can be available during lunch.

For 7th grade families, the last part of MCAS testing falls within the first week of Ramadan (Wednesday, May 16 through Friday, May 18).  During the MCAS testing window, we often send reminders to families about the benefits of students having something to eat before they arrive to school and we also make small snacks (goldfish crackers, etc.) available to students who might want something when they first arrive to class.  For our 7th grade students who will be observing Ramadan during this time, I wanted to acknowledge that this particular testing schedule could feel a bit harder for them if they are fasting. If your student plans to fast during that week, I wanted to offer a friendly reminder and suggestion to, if possible, plan a pre-dawn meal (I believe it’s called sehri) for your child on those days in particular so they may have a bit of food in their stomachs as they begin MCAS testing later that morning.  We will continue to work with each of our teams to offer messages to our students about the choices that are available and the standing invitation to speak to us about anything they’d like us to keep in mind as they and their families continue to observe Ramadan this month.  

For those of you whose children might be open to some continued pleasure reading over the summer (it’s coming up quickly), two resources for you: (1) our RJ Grey Library website includes a number of links to book lists and search engines that provide suggestions based on specific interests; and (2) our Librarian Ms. Charpentier has released a Junior High Summer Reading List (click here to view) that it encourages all of its students, including rising 9th grade students (those are your kids, 8th grade parents!), to look at if they’re stuck for suggestions.  Please note that this is NOT a required summer reading list, and instead is simply a resource for possible titles to consider this summer.  

And a hearty congratulations to Shreya Sarcar who was named Artist of the Month for this May. In February I introduced this new program created by RJ Grey art teacher Holly Vlajinac as an opportunity for 7th and 8th Graders to have an authentic, juried art exhibition experience similar to the process in which professional artists participate.  Shreya and her artwork were chosen for the month of May and she is posing with one of her pieces in the photo to the left.  Shreya dreams of becoming an architect one day and she notes how drawing, doodling or coloring is joyful for her and really helps her destress.  You can view more of Shreya’s work by clicking here.  

Have a great week, everyone.