Back to School Information

August 8, 2023

Good afternoon, RJ Grey Families:

I hope you and your family have enjoyed your summer vacation. If you are like me, you are starting to think about the return to school. This letter will provide you with an overview of some important information for the new school year. In addition, I encourage you to please view the Back to School section of our website for additional information. We will continue to update that page over the next few weeks as additional information becomes available. 

We strive to continue building a joyful, inclusive community of engaged learners this year. We have made a few changes to our schedule this year to make it more predictable and organized for students and staff. We will return to a 4-day rotating calendar which is a historical aspect of being a student at RJ Grey that we moved away from last year. Everyone can see the What Day Is It Calendar here and on our website. We continue to refine our Advisory program. Many 8th graders will be in the same groups as last year. For many reasons, including group dynamics and adjustments for staff who have moved on from RJ Grey, some advisory assignments have shifted for 8th graders. All 7th graders will be assigned to advisory groups this year. 

We will continue our focus on making sure that students come to school every day. I ask all families to please commit to the importance of regular school attendance. When possible, scheduling appointments, family events, and vacations outside of school hours is helpful. Being on time to school every day is hugely important, too. Our school day begins promptly at 8 am when students will attend homeroom. The easiest way to guarantee an on-time arrival is by taking the bus. If families choose to drive their students, I only ask that you allow plenty of time to navigate the traffic on and around our campus. Knowing that the Route 111 construction project will last for several more years, please build your own morning schedule to account for unpredictable delays. Regardless of the traffic situation, we will always begin our day at 8 am. We appreciate your support in making sure your child is on time and ready to learn each day!

RJ Grey will have 10 Early Release Mondays throughout the year in order to accommodate professional learning and collaboration time for our staff. Please note that RJ Grey has reduced the number of Early Release days from last year. On the list of Mondays below, RJ Grey will dismiss our students at 1 pm. ABRHS will also have an early release on the days listed below, plus five additional early releases. On the days listed below, students may take their regular bus home, or you may arrange other plans with them. The library is not available for students after dismissal on these days. Additionally, there is no late bus service on the Mondays listed below:

September 18
October 2 and 23
December 4
January 29
February 12
March 4 and 18
April 29
May 20

Family Engagement

Please add an important date to your calendars: Thursday, September 28, from 7 - 9 pm is our annual Back to School Night at RJ Grey. As caregivers, you’ll have the chance to come to RJ Grey, follow your child’s schedule and see their classrooms, hear from their teachers, and get a sense of what it’s like to be a student at RJ Grey.

Chromebook Responsibilities

RJ Grey was the first school in the district to assign individual Chromebooks to students back in 2019. Since then, our world has changed and having an individual device is a common practice. We continue to learn and update our protocols around Chromebook use, repair, and replacement. RJ Grey students are issued a Chromebook and charger to use during the year. In June, we collect those items and distribute them again the following September. This year, students will have to pay to purchase a replacement charger if they lose or break it. Chromebooks that are broken out of obvious negligence will also be charged for repair or replacement.

I want to direct your attention to the several pages that follow, as they will include important information about the following topics: 

  • Overview of the start of the school year;

  • Information about school supplies;

  • Access to the building before and after school;

  • Traffic flow, morning drop-off and building access

I also direct you to our school website where we have additional documents that you will find valuable. Please find this info at

  • Our Student Handbook;

  • The What Day Is It calendar;

  • Information about our Chromebook plan; 

  • Food Services information;

  • Info on how to join our PTSO.

I do hope that you take some time to comb through the subsequent pages. And whether you’re new to our community, or if you’re returning to us, please accept my most sincere welcome. I hope you and your children enjoy the remaining few weeks of summer - we’ll be seeing them very soon!

Take care,

Jim Marcotte


RJ Grey Junior High School


R.J. Grey - Start of School Year Overview

Creating and Posting of Team Assignments
As you can imagine, scheduling a school with almost 830 students is a complex process of checks and balances and a significant portion of the summer is spent building these teams in order to balance them by sending school, gender, race, world language choices, and special education, ELL, and other academic services. 

Given those and a number of other variables, it is virtually impossible to build the schedule around individual team requests.  When we received information from families about individual student situations, we did review them and made our best attempt to accommodate situations when possible and appropriate.  We are confident that we have built the teams in a manner that will ensure every student has the opportunity to maintain or develop friendships with their peers. We will not be able to adjust team placements after they have been released for any reason other than our own error.

On August 11, families of returning students will receive their Power School username and password recovery instructions, if necessary. Families of new students will receive Access ID and Access passwords for the Parent Portal. These usernames are necessary to access the Parent Portal on Thursday, August 17 at 12 pm. At that time, we will post the team assignments via the parent portal

In order to access your child’s team assignment, you need to log into the Power School parent portal. You will first be required to complete your child’s emergency card information and answer some additional school permission-related questions, including specific PTSO permissions.  Please note that the parent portal will be closed until August 17th, so you will not be able to complete these forms in advance.  Once you complete the required information, you will be able to access your child’s team placement, which is listed in your student’s account.  

Should you be unable to access the internet, please call our main office at 978 264-4700 x3303. We’ll invite you in to complete these forms at school; calling ahead will confirm that someone is there to meet you. This will allow us to assist you in entering the online emergency card information and permissions forms after which we will give you your child’s team assignment. 

In summary, to complete the emergency card, and to access your child’s team assignment online, please mark your calendars that the parent portal will open on Thursday, August 17 at 12PM.

First Days of School
For seventh graders, the first day of school is Wednesday, August 30.  Upon entering the school, students will be directed to their Homeroom location. Prior to this day, students will not have (nor need) their individual schedules.  Schedules will be shared during the first days of school. The name of your child’s Homeroom teacher will be available on the Parent Portal.

Each team works hard to welcome its students on that first day. They will help students get settled in, will take them on a tour of our building, and help them use their lockers. There will not be a focus on academics on that first day of school - getting everyone into our building and making them feel comfortable is our goal.  Students may bring their own lunch or purchase a lunch from the cafeteria. There is additional info later in this document related to Food Services at RJ Grey.  After lunch, we will hold an assembly where we officially welcome everyone to RJ Grey and begin the school year with some words of encouragement and a preview of what will be a part of their RJ Grey experience.  

RJ Grey prints and makes available a student planbook that students may request to help them stay organized as they begin the year. With the support of the PTSO, student planners are provided at no cost to those students who request one. After the first week of school, we’ll ask students to sign up for a planbook through an electronic form.  

Any 8th grade student new to the Acton-Boxborough District (those who did not attend RJ Grey as 7th graders last year) are invited to participate in an orientation program on Wednesday, August 30 beginning at 1:00 PM and ending at 2:36 PM so that students may ride home on their regular bus. Students are invited to gather in the lobby where they will be directed to a meeting space.  Please click this link to sign up for this mini-orientation.

The first day of school for all other eighth grade students is Thursday, August 31. 8th graders should report to the school by 8:00 AM on Thursday morning where they will be directed to their Homerooms. 

Athletics at RJ Grey 

Information about our Athletics program is found on the RJ Grey website.  This includes tryout schedules for our Fall sports programs, none of which begin before the first day of school.  Families of interested athletes must review instructions for registering their child and submitting required medical information ahead of tryouts. No student may try out for a fall sport without signing up on Family ID, along with the clearance of our school nurse.

Food Services at RJ Grey 

The Massachusetts Legislature has recommended a budget to Governor Healey that includes free breakfast and lunch for all students. At this moment (August 9), Governor Healey has not yet signed the budget. When there is an update to the breakfast/lunch program at AB, we will be in touch with families. In the meantime, you can access the Food Services website for details about how the program worked last year.


We are grateful for the annual support provided to us by the Acton-Boxbrough PTSO. Over the years, the PTSO has supported our work with grants to help us with student events, student planbooks, furniture, and staff appreciation gestures. We invite any interested family to renew their annual membership to the PTSO. We thank you for your support!

Communication - At and With RJ Grey
Given the digital landscape that surrounds us, we have focused a lot of energy on maintaining a user-friendly school website where families can access useful and current information, including contact information, a Google calendar of events, and downloadable forms and handouts.  The address for our site is  As we continue to push out information, we recommend checking the page a few times before the start of the school year. 

We also strongly encourage all families to sign up for the RJ Grey mailing list - this is separate from the PTSO mailing list.  When you sign up for this mailing list, you will receive our daily announcements (which include reminders about upcoming activities, due dates, club meetings, and up-to-date sports cancellations, etc.) as well as the Principal’s weekly newsletter, called Eye on the Junior High.  In order to sign up, go to the RJ Grey website and click on the icon that says, “Subscribe to Mail List.”  Doing that will take you to a sign-up page.

Please note that parents and guardians who have already signed up for the mailing list have not been deleted, and need not re-enter their information.  If you do not wish to sign up for the mailing list, but would like to read the weekly edition of Eye on the Junior High, they will be posted on the RJ Grey website each Thursday evening, under the Administration tab.  

We continue to maintain an active RJ Grey twitter feed: @rjgreyjhs along with an Instagram profile: rjgreyjhs.  We encourage you to consider these avenues for information about school activity cancellations and reminders about important events (and viewing the occasional photo).  To sign up, visit the RJ Grey website.  

Staff and faculty at RJ Grey can be reached through email or leaving a voicemail

The format for most staff email is first initial, last name, followed by  For example, my email address is [email protected].  Links to teacher email addresses can also be found on the RJ Grey website.  Teachers can be reached through voicemail by calling our main number (978) 264-4700 x3304  and asking for the teacher’s voice mail. Teachers do their best to respond to inquiries in a timely manner, and will get back to you within 24 hours.  

Absentee Line, Cell Phones, Building Access
Regarding some basic school procedures, if your child will be absent from or late to school, please call the absence line at (978) 264-4700 ex: 3333 before 8:00AM and state your child’s: 

1. name 

2. team  

3. and, briefly, the reason for the absence or tardy arrival. 

If you need to call during school hours (7:45-3:30), please call extension 3304 to leave a message with a member of our office staff. You may also email the RJ Grey Main Office at [email protected] to send in information.

Our office staff will compare the messages with our homeroom attendance.  Students who are marked absent in homeroom but for whom we did not receive a call will be marked as “unexcused” and will generate a call home. Please assist us in this process and remember to call the school if your child will be absent. 

If you need your child to be dismissed during the school day, please email us at the address above, or send your child in with a note and instruct your child to bring it to the main office when arriving to school.  The main office will issue a pass that your child will use when it is time to be picked up.  If your child is not feeling well, your student should visit the nurse, and the nurse will work with your child to determine the next course of action.  Students should not use their personal cell phones to make arrangements with you to be picked up

To maintain student safety and building security, the doors to the front lobby are the only public entrance to school during the school day (visitors are asked to check in at the Main Office upon arrival).  All other doors will be locked during the school day. 

Student Cell Phone Use

The video, camera, and real-time text capabilities of cell phones present the difficult challenge of ensuring an appropriate learning environment for students at this age level.  In order to maintain the focus on school activities and learning, the use of student cell phones is not allowed during the school day. We appreciate that students wish to have cell phones available before and after school. Students who choose to bring cell phones to school MUST keep their phones in their lockers (and turned off) from 8:00am to 2:36pm. This means that even having a turned-off cell phone in your pocket is not permitted.  

School Supplies
In order to be prepared for classes on a daily basis, students and families will need to supply some basic items. The following is a list of items that will be useful in most classes at RJ Grey. Students do not need to bring all of these supplies on the first day of school but should be ready to have them during the first several days of the year. Please note that some teams might recommend additional items once the school year begins in order to be the most productive and organized for the school year.

  • One school-sized backpack

  • Two 1.5” 3-ring binders

  • One pack of 5 subject-dividing tabs for binder

  • Two folders with pockets

  • One calculator (TI-30xIIs)

  • Pencils and pens 

  • Pencil case

  • One multi-subject spiral notebook

  • One package of looseleaf lined paper

  • One package of thin dry erase markers

  • One pair of earbuds or headphones for use with Chromebooks

  • Two pads of standard-sized Post-It notes

  • One box of tissues (as donation to Homeroom)

We encourage students/families for which any of the requested school supplies presents a hardship to contact us and we can provide those items for them.  Please email your child’s counselor or Assistant Principal. 

Morning Drop-off and Building Access

Students will be allowed to enter RJ Grey at 7:35 am each day. Access to the building will not be available until that time. Students will exit their buses or their family’s vehicle and will enter the main entrance or through the door at the top of the stairs from the parking lot. There will be no school activities or programs scheduled before the start of the school day. On occasion, extra help meetings may be arranged between a teacher and a student between 7:35 and 8:00am.

If you plan to drop off your child before school, please review our Morning Drop-Off Routines to understand traffic flow and drop locations at RJ Grey.

Building Access After School Hours

Our school day ends at 2:36pm. After 2:50pm, students may be in the building only if they are participating in a school-sponsored activity that is supervised by a staff member, coach or advisor.  The most common after school activities include: 

  • Attending extra help sessions with a teacher/making up a quiz or test  

  • Participating in a school club or activity (such as Origami Club, MathCounts, Spanish Club, etc.) 

  • Participating in a school sports program (such as Girls and Boys Basketball, Cheerleading, etc.)

  • Participation in a special event/program (such as the school Musical) 

  • Being in the Library to complete schoolwork and/or reading 

Students are welcome to access the Library until 4:30pm (except during once-a-month staff meetings).  The Library will be supervised to ensure an appropriate setting for students to be working.  Please know that students who are not utilizing the Library for quiet work and study will not be permitted to stay.  Save for the occasional sporting event (and musical rehearsals), all school activities held inside the school are over between 3:30 and 4:00pm. Students will not be able to remain in the building after 5:00pm. The District currently offers a Late Bus service that arrives at the Junior High at 4:30pm.  You can review the Late Bus route(s) on the RJ Grey website.

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