Eye on the Junior High



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Good afternoon,


I hope you and your families are doing well and enjoying the recent change in the weather. It’s starting to actually feel like May! This will be a brief message today and it focuses on our nemesis of the last two years: Covid-19. In full disclosure, I am at home this week with Covid. My symptoms are mild, for which I feel very lucky. Many of us know people who have had serious complications or worse from Covid. So while at home, I’m trying to isolate myself from my family but find myself super grateful that it’s a beautiful May day and not the dead of winter so that I can spend time outside with my family safely.


Each day for most of this year, our nurse has sent me an email (or multiple emails) with the name of a student who is newly diagnosed with Covid. I send that along to that student’s set of teachers with their expected date of return. You can see our case counts over the last few weeks by checking out our Covid site; our case counts have been growing over the last few weeks. What I’ve noticed over the last few days is that we’ve been diagnosing some students here at school. Plenty of students are tested at home and don’t come in on a day when they’re not feeling completely well. As we narrow in on the end of the year, I’d ask all of us to redouble our efforts to be on the lookout for signs of illness. If there is any sign of illness, I ask that you please test your child, either at home or at their doctor’s office or pharmacy, and if they aren’t feeling great, please keep them home. I am hoping we’re on the downward trend with cases at RJ Grey, but only time will tell us that. If you have any questions about illness or symptoms, please reach out to our health office at 978 264-4700 x 3318.


While there is no change in official mask status at AB, we still encourage students to make decisions about mask-wearing that make sense for them and for their families. We continue to keep doors and windows open and our air filtration systems operating. We’ve returned to allowing for outdoor lunches on the days that weather and supervision allow for it. I know we’ll have a positive end of the year, and I thank you for your support in keeping an eye on your child’s health status. Please be in touch with any questions.


Here are some upcoming dates to be aware of:

-Friday, May 13: 7th grade Math MCAS Session 2

-Monday, May 16: School Council on Zoom,  7 pm

-Friday, May 20: 7th grade Celebration, 7 - 9 pm


Take care,


Jim Marcotte



Posted by jmarcotte  On May 12, 2022 at 2:31 PM
  

Good afternoon,


I hope you are all doing well. If you aren’t aware, this week is National Teacher Appreciation Week. I follow many educational leaders on social media and I see the gifts, spreads of food, balloons, and daily treats that other principals have provided for their staff over the past four days. If I had to rate myself on a rubric, I would be “Unsatisfactory” for demonstrating my appreciation in this way. I do have the same sentiment these people have though, just without the catering bill to pay.  I continue to be so very appreciative of the teachers and staff who work at RJ Grey. I have asked you twice before in this column to please reach out and thank your child’s teachers. If you haven’t already done so, or even if you have, this is a good week to thank a teacher or someone who works in a school.


I have observed several teachers this week, and in our post-observation conversations about the lesson, I often ask questions that I’m wondering about, or I ask the teacher to fill in the gaps for me: what happened the day before, what was next in the sequence of activities? Having these lesson debriefs this week continues to remind me that our teachers are thinking of 100 things at the same time: planning for the student who has trouble reading to access the text you just handed out, making sure the two girls who are having an argument aren’t sitting in the same group, re-teaching something that you taught the day before that you know went right over their heads, remembering when class ends today because the schedule is different because of Math MCAS. The to-do list of every teacher is endless, and all of those tasks are in service of teaching our kids and making our school a really great place for kids to learn. If you haven’t done so yet, please thank a teacher or two this week!


I have several community-based announcements that I want to share with you today: one is RJG-based, one is AB-based, and the others relate to the summer!


Last week, I mentioned that we’ll be having a 7th grade celebration on May 20 from 7 - 9 pm. Music, food, fun, and some dancing will hopefully make for a fun night in the gym. 7th graders will be able to start purchasing tickets soon. This event, and the next one I’m going to describe, are just for RJ Grey students: friends from other towns will have fun at their own schools, I’m sure!  Towards the end of the year, we’ll also have our 8th grade celebration. This will take place on Friday, June 10th at 7 pm in our cafeteria. This is historically a really fun night for our 8th graders before they move on to high school. My wife went to RJ Grey many years ago and still affectionately calls this event “the semi,” as in semi-formal. We have moved past that understanding and while students do dress more nicely than they do for school, it is a low-key event where kids get together. No one needs fancy clothes, no one needs a “date,” and no one needs special plans for an after-party. We’ll talk more about this event to your students in the coming weeks. We are very grateful for the group of parents who will work with our PTSO and some of our staff to pull off this great night.

- - - - - - - - -

If your child went to the Douglas School, I want to make sure you see this announcement: 

Calling All Douglas Elementary Alumni!

 

The C.T. Douglas Elementary School PTO is hosting a Farewell to Elm St Party on June 1st from 5pm-7pm. Our entire Douglas Community (alumni too!) is invited to party together and give Elm St. the send-off it deserves before we move over to the Boardwalk Campus. Picture warm weather, food trucks (BYO option too), yard games, and just plain hanging out with people…it’s going to be FUN! *Held rain or shine

 

RSVP HERE by May 15 as we need a headcount for our food trucks/vendors to prepare. Those who RSVP by the deadline will be entered into a gift card raffle announced at the party.

- - - - - - - - -

If you are thinking about summer (we all are!), I want to share a financial resource that we’re aware of. The Doli Atamian Campership Program provides scholarships to summer camps and programs/classes for children in Acton and Boxborough based on family income. The application process is simple, and each child/student may receive up to $300 towards a summer camp program or activities/classes of the family’s choice. For more information about the Campership scholarship and an application form, go to https://www.doliatamiancampership.com/ or call 978-515-3227.

- - - - - - - - -

Dear Families of Students Who Will Be Entering 6th-8th Grade Next Year:  

 

Minuteman High School is offering summer school enrichment programs for students entering grades 6-8 throughout July and August. Enrichment courses are optional classes intended for students to learn about subjects that interest them. 

 

Middle School Courses  

Click this link to register for summer courses

-Cost: The cost is $200 per 1-week enrichment course. 

-Transportation: School buses will be available for grade 6-8 students who live in one of Minuteman’s nine member towns: Acton, Arlington, Bolton, Concord, Dover, Lancaster, Lexington, Needham, and Stow. Scheduling and route information will be provided after the registration process is complete. 

-Dates for Middle School Summer Enrichment Courses: 

--July 11-15, 8:30 AM-11:30 AM: Auto Mechanics, Plant Science/Horticulture, Cosmetology/Salon, Early Education, Environmental Science, Veterinary Science, Multimedia
--July 11-15, 12:00-3:00 PM: Cosmetology/Salon
--July 18-22, 8:30 AM-11:30 AM: Auto Mechanics, Cosmetology/Salon, Environmental Science, Veterinary Science, Multimedia
--July 18-22, 12:00 PM-3:00 PM: Cosmetology/Salon
--July 25-29, 8:30 AM-11:30 AM: Environmental Science, Veterinary Science, Public Speaking/Debate 

 

If you have any questions about summer school courses, please contact Cindy DeMaio, summer school coordinator and cosmetology instructor.  

- - - - - - - -

Here are some upcoming dates to be aware of:

-Monday, May 9: 8th grade Math MCAS Session 2

-Tuesday, May 10: 8th grade Science MCAS

-Thursday, May 12: 7th grade Math MCAS Session 1

-Friday, May 13: 7th grade Math MCAS Session 2

-Monday, May 16: School Council on Zoom,  7 pm

-Friday, May 20: 7th grade Celebration, 7 - 9 pm


Take care,


Jim Marcotte



Posted by jmarcotte  On May 05, 2022 at 4:43 PM
  

Good afternoon,


I hope you had a nice April vacation. My family and I spent some time in the yard, we visited a Maine beach for a portion of a day, and I read a book for pleasure! I hope your week was fulfilling, too.


Every year when we return from April vacation, it feels like we are stepping onto a broken treadmill that is dialed in to “High,” and the controls won’t allow for slowing down! Already this week, we’ve been involved in interviewing candidates for new teaching positions, we hosted about 200 people for our 6th grade family info night last night, and we opened up our outside eating locations again for our lunches. Our students also got back into the swing of things with classwork, along with games and practices for our athletic teams. On the horizon are some field trips for 7th graders to Boda Borg. And our 8th grade teams all take turns going to the Peabody Essex Museum to complement much of what they’ve been learning about in their social studies classes. 


It’s also the time of year when we start to get excited about end-of-year celebrations. On the night of Friday, May 20th, we’ll host an evening celebration for our 7th graders. We’ll have music, dancing, and food for our students to celebrate the almost-end of their 7th grade year. Students tend to dress up a bit - nothing formal at all - and get together in the gym for a good time. Please be on the lookout for emails about donating some snacks or drinks, or even volunteering for the event. As the year progresses, we’ll also mention the 8th grade version of this event! More to come!


Our next batch of student at-home testing kits went home today. Thanks to all of you who still have your children take their tests on Sunday afternoons. Each day since vacation, we’ve had one or two reported cases of Covid in our students or staff. We’re still continuing to be mask-optional as a school and students continue to be respectful and cooperative with their peers who make a personal choice about masking. If you would prefer that your child stop receiving these at-home test kits, you can find an opt-out form on our District’s Covid page.


We’re heading back into another round of MCAS testing starting next week. Both 7th and 8th graders take two sessions each of Math, and our 8th graders take 2 sessions of Science, as well. Our schedule for these test sessions is below. We had great attendance, with students arriving on time to school during our ELA testing window. We hope for the same with our next tests. As always, a good night’s sleep, along with breakfast the morning of their tests will help students feel ready to show what they know!


A few weeks ago, a student volunteered to share the meaning of Ramadan over the morning announcements. As we approach the end of Ramadan and the festival of Eid-al-Fitr on Monday, we wish everyone who celebrates Eid Mubarak!



Here are some upcoming dates to be aware of:

-Monday, May 2: Early Release (1 pm)

-Thursday, May 5: 8th grade Math MCAS Session 1

-Monday, May 9: 8th grade Math MCAS Session 2

-Tuesday, May 10: 8th grade Science MCAS

-Thursday, May 12: 7th grade Math MCAS Session 1

-Friday, May 13: 7th grade Math MCAS Session 2

-Monday, May 16: School Council on Zoom,  7 pm

-Friday, May 20: 7th grade Celebration, 7 - 9 pm


Take care,


Jim Marcotte



Posted by jmarcotte  On Apr 28, 2022 at 5:35 PM
  

Good afternoon,


The students have left for April vacation! If you have plans for the week, I hope they’re fun and joyful! My family and I will be sticking close to home. I am looking forward to catching up on some sleep this week and hopefully doing some fun stuff outside! When I came home from school on Monday, I walked into the house to one of my three daughters who said, “Hi.” While hanging up my school bag and coat, I responded without thinking, “Good morning.” The three of them thought that was pretty hilarious! “Good morning” is my standard greeting when kids get out of their families’ cars each morning. I think I must say “Good morning” between 75 and 100 times within a half hour. I’m often responding to “Hi,” so this trigger worked even at home…I’m hoping a few days away from RJ Grey will reset that auto-response!


Many of you probably saw the announcement from the district that I was selected to continue in my role as Principal at RJ Grey. I am very happy to be given the opportunity to continue working with some really great teachers and some really great kids from some really great families. RJ Grey has been my home for ten years and I still get excited to start my work each morning. Thank you for all of your well wishes over the past few days - I really appreciate them!


I wanted to use this space to remind all of you about the chance to weigh in on our current mascot process. If you haven’t yet given an opinion, please consider doing so by clicking on this link. The survey is open until April 22nd at 5 pm.
 

Here are some upcoming dates to be aware of:

-Monday, April 25: Schools Reopen

-Wednesday, April 27: Welcome night for 6th grade families, 6:45 in auditorium

-Monday, May 2: Early Release (1 pm)

-Thursday, May 5: 8th grade Math MCAS Session 1

-Monday, May 9: 8th grade Math MCAS Session 2

-Tuesday, May 10: 8th grade Science MCAS

-Thursday, May 12: 7th grade Math MCAS Session 1

-Friday, May 13: 7th grade Math MCAS Session 2


Take care,


Jim Marcotte



Posted by jmarcotte  On Apr 14, 2022 at 3:50 PM
  

Good afternoon,


It has been another busy week at RJ Grey! Most of you saw my emails yesterday about the safety issue we dealt with. I know you will all appreciate the privacy that I’d like to protect at this stage. We had several students come forward this morning with information and we were able to resolve the situation today. What I can share is that there was never any intent to cause harm or create a disruption. Thank you all for your cooperation and understanding as we worked to get to the bottom of this most recent concern. 


I really hope many of you will join us for Guys and Dolls, Jr this weekend. As we were temporarily relocating students around our building yesterday afternoon, I got to see our actors all decked out in their costumes and garb. They look great and I know that the acting, music, and singing will be awesome, as well. Performances are on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 7pm and Sunday at 2pm at the Dragonfly Theater (the RJG Auditorium). Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students and are on sale tomorrow (Friday) at the Main Office, or at the door. ABSAF passholders are entitled to two free tickets for the JH musical and are encouraged to pick them up, in advance, from the Main Office between 8:30am and 3:00pm on Friday.


As a reminder, next week is a 4-day week at AB. We’re closed on Friday for Good Friday and then closed the following week for April Vacation.


Here are some upcoming dates to be aware of:

-Thursday, April 7 - Sunday, April 10: Guys and Dolls, Jr Musical at RJ Grey

-Monday, April 11 - School Council Meeting, 7 pm on Zoon

-Friday, April 15 - No School for Good Friday

-Monday, April 18 - Friday, April 22 - Vacation Week


Take care,


Jim Marcotte



Posted by jmarcotte  On Apr 07, 2022 at 3:41 PM
  

Good evening,


I rarely watch professional basketball or college basketball. But when it comes to March Madness, I'm all in with checking my bracket regularly. While my predicted winner is already out of contention, I’m currently in the lead! I’ve screenshotted my “1st place” a few times for posterity, as I know one of my in-laws will pass by me soon. At RJ Grey, we are celebrating the almost end of March Madness with College Jersey day tomorrow. If your child has a favorite college to support, send them in with their gear. My Stonehill College sweatshirt is in the wash as I write this.


During morning announcements this week, I was happy to learn that our school raised over $1400 for the Sunflower of Peace organization, with the goal of helping the people of Ukraine. I’m always proud of our community and our students - but I certainly want to thank our families for the funds that I’m sure many of you gave for this effort. With an intentional focus on community this year at RJ Grey, this is an example of how our little community has the potential to impact communities in other parts of the world. We hope our small token of funding makes a difference for Ukraine.


Each year, RJ Grey is asked to nominate two students to represent our two towns as Ambassadors for Project 351: a non-profit organization dedicated to youth service and leadership. The 351 cities and towns in Massachusetts all have an 8th grade representative and together, the students work on service projects in their own towns. Our reps, Lilah Nakimuli and Julia Zhou are behind an upcoming RJ Grey Clothing Drive. If you have gently used or new clothing, sized Infant to Youth Large, please consider donating. We’ll have donation bins in the main lobby of RJ Grey all next week. Feel free to come by during the week, or send in a bag with your child. We’ll happily accept your donations for this good cause.


We are wrapping up our ELA MCAS tomorrow with the final day for most 7th graders. If your child missed one or more days of  MCAS this week, we’ll be in touch with them next week to do make-ups. By all accounts, the testing has gone smoothly! Thanks for reminding your kids to charge their Chromebooks - we had very few tech issues this week, which just makes the whole process more relaxed for everyone involved.


Finally, we are excited to bring back the Junior High Musical! Like most things, it’s been a few years since we’ve put on a musical. This year, our Stage Works crew is presenting Guys and Dolls, Jr! I encourage you to buy tickets to come see our students sing and dance! Our students and staff have been working hard on this performance. Performances are on April 7th-9th at 7pm and April 10th at 2pm at the Dragonfly Theater (the RJG Auditorium). Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students and are on sale now at the Main Office, or at the door. ABSAF pass holders are entitled to two free tickets for the JH musical and are encouraged to pick them up, in advance, from the Main Office between 8:30am and 3:00pm. I’m very excited to be in the audience and I hope to see many of you there!


Here are some upcoming dates to be aware of:

-Friday, April 1: 7th grade ELA MCAS

-Monday, April 4: Early Release (1 pm)

-Thursday, April 7 - Sunday April 10: Guys and Dolls, Jr Musical at RJ Grey

-Monday, April 11 - School Council Meeting, 7 pm on Zoon

-Friday, April 15 - No School for Good Friday

-Monday, April 18 - Friday, April 22 - Vacation Week


Take care,


Jim Marcotte



Posted by jmarcotte  On Mar 31, 2022 at 6:48 PM
  

Good afternoon,


I hope you are all doing well. Today was a fun day at RJ Grey - we hope most days feel somewhat fun! Today was our second Team Community Building Day for three of the four 8th grade teams. 8 Red chose to postpone until next week based on some outdoor activities they had planned. Our teachers planned fun and different activities that allowed students to work together in groups, laugh, engage, and enjoy some community and joy - both of which are central to our work this year. I saw many fun activities: build the tallest structure possible with 30 toothpicks and small marshmallows; play a full-class trivia game with wagers for particular categories; get pairs of marbles from one end of a room to another by transporting them only through PVC pipes! We also had lower key activities that included coloring, board games, and creating paper sunflowers. I have huge appreciation for our teachers who planned these activities with the goal of some community building and some joy. The 7th graders have their Team Community Building Days tomorrow. I’m equally excited to check out what’s on tap for them.


We are deep into planning for next year, both here and at the high school. Seventh grade families heard from me by email today regarding course registration for next year. Our deadline for completion is Friday, April 1. The 8th grade families heard from me earlier this week, and your deadline for course registration is this coming Monday, March 28. Our counseling staff is a great resource for any questions related to course registration. Please feel free to reach out.


And finally, we begin our MCAS testing next week. The full schedule for ELA testing is listed below. While we hope it’s always the case, a good night’s sleep before MCAS, along with breakfast at home (or in our cafe) are a good way to start the day. While we are not a school that overuses the results of our MCAS assessments, we recognize that the test is supposed to test the standards and skills we are teaching, and we’d like to see our students perform well on it. We always find ways to learn something about our instruction and where we can improve based on the assessments. And my biggest request - please make sure your child charges their Chromebook the night before each test. You’ll help save us all a bit of panic!


Here are some upcoming dates to be aware of:

-Friday, March 25: 7th grade team community building day

-Monday, March 28: 8th grade ELA MCAS

-Tuesday, March 29: 8th grade ELA MCAS

-Thursday, March 31: 7th grade ELA MCAS

-Thursday, March 31: Student trivia event after school

-Friday, April 1: 7th grade ELA MCAS


Take care,


Jim Marcotte



Posted by jmarcotte  On Mar 24, 2022 at 3:17 PM
  

Good afternoon,


Happy St. Patrick’s Day to anyone who wants to be Irish today! With a French-Canadian last name, my family's understanding was always that we were a good 25% French-Canadian.  A few years ago, my wife got me one of those at-home DNA test kits. Surprisingly, my results came back as 95% Irish and 5% Scottish. This led to a bit of intrigue as we couldn’t figure out where “Marcotte” entered the family tree! One would assume it might have been a mistake on my lab results, but we also found out my uncle had a similar revelation - no French Canadian at all! Long story short…whether you are actually Irish, or still wonder about your status (like me), Happy St. Patrick’s Day to us all!


We had a great event for students last Friday afternoon. It was our first in-person Student Council event since January 2020. Our March Madness tournament was a great time and everyone who attended had lots of fun - players and spectators alike. Not only was it a 5-on-5 tournament with games 5 minutes long, the ball we used was smaller than normal and pumped FULL of air. So even our strongest players had a hard time getting into a shooting and scoring rhythm. The highest point total I was able to see before stepping out of the gym was six! It was great to see lots of students come together to do something fun. There was cheering, laughing, and of course, disappointment for the teams as they got knocked out of the competition. As we work on building a joyful, inclusive community, this is a good example of an activity for kids that I hope they will remember fondly.


We couldn’t pull off events like this without adult support. Our student council advisor is Ms. Ahl and she worked closely with her student council members to organize and advertise. We benefited greatly from a group of parents who volunteered to work in the snack area: Shweta Arora, Megan Connor, Hajeera Janibasha, Durga Nirgudkar, Lisa Palaia, and Kelly Sturniolo. We are also super grateful to the families who donated food and drink for the event. We really appreciate your support!


Our Student Council has also been busy setting up a fundraiser for the Sunflower of Peace organization. We are collecting money to donate to this charity which provides medical and humanitarian aid that will be used by the paramedics and doctors in the areas that are affected by the violence in Ukraine. Thank you for your support of this student-led effort.


Finally, for today, a request! We provide each of our students with a school-owned Chromebook for use in and out of school. We have arrived at the point of the year when some students come to school with their Chromebooks not fully charged. We have to turn away students who ask for a loaner for the day due to not having battery power. We have a limited supply of loaners and we give those to students whose devices are broken or malfunctioning. Going forward, if it’s not already a well-established routine for your child, could you please help them make sure their device gets charged every night? Before we enter MCAS next week, I’ll send a more specific email about this to all of our families. We appreciate your help with this request.


Here are some upcoming dates to be aware of:

-Monday, March 21: Parent Portal opens for current 8th grade families re: ABRHS courses

-Monday, March 21: Early Release, 1 pm

-Thursday, March 24: 8th grade team community building day

-Thursday, March 24: Parent Portal opens for current 7th grade families re: RJG courses

-Thursday, March 24: Trimester 2 Report Cards emailed

-Friday, March 25: 7th grade team community building day

-Monday, March 28: 8th grade ELA MCAS

-Tuesday, March 29: 8th grade ELA MCAS

-Thursday, March 31: 7th grade ELA MCAS

-Thursday, March 31: Student trivia event after school

-Friday, April 1: 7th grade ELA MCAS



Take care,


Jim Marcotte



Posted by jmarcotte  On Mar 17, 2022 at 4:25 PM
  

Good afternoon,


This morning at traffic duty, I was paying particular attention to the cars who were arriving without any snow on them! I was a bit jealous that you must not have a garage packed full of trash barrels, Barbie Jeeps, and 17 bicycles, Big Wheels, and fake lawn mowers! That quick-hitter of snow caught me by surprise this morning. But now my office window is open and it feels like March, again, for which I am grateful.


Tomorrow marks the end of Trimester 2 at RJ Grey. Report cards will be emailed after we process all of our grades and comments, likely delivered around March 24th. Entering the final trimester always means that the end of year is in sight. It also means that we have a lot happening throughout the spring and is a good check for us: are we ready? We will be!


I want to highlight that we have spring athletics starting up soon (baseball, softball, spring track, and volleyball). Here is a doc with information about upcoming tryouts and practices. We’ll likely update this doc over the next few days to account for the Town of Acton Election on Tuesday, 3/29. That will limit our ability to have indoor tryouts on Monday and Tuesday of that week. If you have specific questions about any of our spring sports, the doc linked above has contact info for our coaches and athletic director. This doc also reminds everyone about the requirement for current physical exams, and the Family ID sign-ups.


As we enter the spring, we also focus a lot of our time on planning for MCAS testing at the Junior High. In the seventh grade, students are tested in ELA and Math. In the eighth grade, students are tested in ELA, Math, and Science. We start our ELA testing on March 28. Here are our planned MCAS dates this spring, for your convenience.


Tomorrow is Sports Jersey Day at RJ Grey. I have never been one to own a Brady or Gronk jersey - I probably could find a few Red Sox t-shirts in my drawers if I look hard enough. So if your child wants to wear sports-related garb tomorrow, please encourage it. Earlier this year, a pair of teachers approached me in the lobby one morning with a gift bag. We moved into my office where I unveiled the gift. They had bought me a Richmond AFC jersey with my name on the back. I’ve never played soccer in my life; I watch my daughters try to play soccer by chasing the ball around the field. But if you’re a reader of this weekly message, you know that I appreciate all things Ted Lasso. I thanked these teachers for this really thoughtful gift…completely loving the sentiment and thoughtfulness, while knowing that soccer jerseys haven’t fit my aesthetic in the past! But, I’m bringing it home tonight and if it fits comfortably in the morning, I’ll wear it to support my club!





Here are some upcoming dates to be aware of:

-Friday, March 11: End of Trimester 2

-Friday, March 11: Sports Jersey Day

-Friday, March 11: Student Council Basketball Tournament after school

-Monday, March 14: RJ Grey School Council, 7 pm on Zoom

-Monday, March 21: Portal opens for ninth grade course registration
-Monday, March 21: Early Release, 1 pm

-Thursday, March 24: 8th grade team community building day

-Friday, March 25: 7th grade team community building day


Take care,


Jim Marcotte



Posted by jmarcotte  On Mar 10, 2022 at 4:15 PM
  

Good afternoon,

 

It has been a good week of reconnecting and settling in at RJ Grey after last week’s vacation. I know you’re all aware that we’ve adjusted our Covid practices and we are now a mask-optional school district. As always, our students have come through and do exactly what we have asked. On Monday when we returned, I noticed about 80% of our students wearing masks (my estimate, only!). Over the last four days, that number has shifted a bit and there are now fewer students wearing masks throughout the day, but we’re still hovering around the 50-60% mark. We made clear that we would respect all student and staff decisions to wear masks or not. We haven’t had any issues with students questioning each other’s mask-wearing. We have great kids who are really respectful of this process. Thanks for letting us work with your children!

 

We returned on Monday with several important world events to unpack. Our social studies classes were front and center with helping students grapple with the situation in Ukraine. I visited all eight social studies rooms on Monday to see how teachers were helping the students process what they might have watched on the news over the prior week, and in many cases they connected the current events with topics they’ve already studied this year. These same teachers also got the chance to talk about the nomination of a supreme court justice, topped off by a State of the Union address. It’s been quite a week! I am always so appreciative when this particular department comes together to help our students unpack important events that happen in our world.

 

If you’re the parent of an 8th grader, you may start to hear your child talk about courses for next year at ABRHS. This week, our 8th grade counselors began talking to some students about the process for next year’s course registration; other teams will hear this talk next week. The counselors answer general questions about the high school, including course loads, and logistics (how long is lunch!). Our counselors leave specific conversations about content-area courses and recommendations to our team teachers. Those conversations will be coming up in the next few weeks, where a teacher will make a recommendation for your child’s continued study in that discipline. Starting on March 21, you’ll go into the Parent Portal to see the recommended courses. There will be instructions shared prior to then, but I include it as context for what your kids might be starting to excitedly talk about. The high school has developed a specific site where you can gather information about this upcoming transition.

 

My final point today is to talk about social media. Every year, we try to help students navigate the complications of living in a world with social media. I am continually thankful that there was no such thing during my own middle school years! The computer we had at home was in the living room and the only reason you’d use it was to maybe use the word processing features. And when I was home and didn’t want to talk to any of my classmates, I had the luxury to choose to just be, without the constant feeling of keeping up with what’s happening online. Our kids don’t have that luxury now.


I encourage you to have a conversation with your children this week to ask about their social media habits. We’ve seen accounts this year that pop up with the goal of embarrassing or exposing pictures or facts about peers. When we find out about these, we try to help locate the responsible party and have the account taken down. Just this week, I talked to several students who I could see were following and liking posts on certain accounts that were posting concerning images. In each case, students didn’t know who had created the account, nor did they know who was adding content. Yet, they continued to like the posts, and in some cases, comment. I think our kids face a dilemma with social media: view it, like it, comment on it, or be left out of the loop. I understand the conundrum. In my conversations this week, I tried to have students understand that if none of them liked inappropriate posts, and if no one commented, the account would likely become obsolete and unimportant. I’d encourage you to ask your kids about how they approach this. If they have any insights into how we can all do better, please feel free to share those thoughts with me!

 


Here are some upcoming dates to be aware of:

-Monday, March 7: Early Release at 1 pm

-Monday, March 7: Youth Risk Behavior Survey for 8th graders

-Friday, March 11: End of Trimester 2

-Friday, March 11: Sports Jersey Day

-Friday, March 11: Student Council Basketball Tournament after school

-Monday, March 14: RJ Grey School Council, 7 pm on Zoom


Take care,


Jim Marcotte



Posted by jmarcotte  On Mar 03, 2022 at 4:53 PM
  
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