October 19, 2023 

Good afternoon,

I was very happy to see many of our students and many of you at last Sunday’s Walk Against Hate. The weather was great for a quick walk from ABRHS to the new Gardner Field in West Acton. We continue the work against hate and bias here at RJ Grey. Starting next week, 28 of our students will be trained as peer leaders by the Anti-Defamation League as part of the A World of Difference Program. After their training, they’ll work together with their advisors to create lessons that they’ll deliver to their peers during the second half of the year. I remain hopeful for our communities because I see how passionate and committed our students and educators are.

Despite our good work and positive intent, we do encounter situations where students make mistakes - on a daily basis! They are middle schoolers and their brains are not yet fully developed, so we understand that mistakes happen. At a moment in the future, you may get a call from a teacher, a counselor, or an administrator to let you know that something happened and that there may be a consequence for your child’s actions. If this happens, it is not the end of the world! We look to partner with you and make sure you understand our goal, which is to make sure the student can reflect and consider how their actions have impacted others and how they can commit to not repeating those same actions.

Over the past year, our admin team has taken a different approach towards typical “consequences.” Last year, our newer admin team debated the value and importance of consequences like lunch detention. Lunch detention is something we’d gotten used to using with students who did something that merited some level of consequence. Lunch detention serves a purpose - removing the fun privilege of being with friends during lunch on a temporary basis. But we didn’t embed a ton of learning into lunch detentions due to their short time frame. At other times in the past, suspensions were also used with students as a consequence. 

With an eye towards using more restorative practices and really focusing on what a student could learn from an experience, we shifted our focus to using more time spent after school. “Detention” is a bad name for what we do. My only time serving a detention was in high school when I forgot my student ID badge at home one morning. Detention at Lowell High in the late ‘90s was an after school consequence where I sat in a room with about 15 other students - I’m not sure if their offenses were more serious than forgetting their student ID! We couldn’t talk, couldn’t read, we just had to sit there. We don’t use that version of detention here at RJ Grey. Instead, the student meets with the assistant principal after school, and through either chatting or in writing, the student reflects on what happened for them to end up after school. In that conversation, the AP will likely give some direction and ask some probing questions for the student to consider about how their actions impacted others, and how they could work to make the situation better. At times, the AP might ask the student to create a poster, or a Google Slide presentation on what they’ve learned. Or, they might write a letter of apology to someone, or they may need to talk to a trusted adult about whatever occurred and what they learned from it. Our ultimate goal when a student makes a mistake is for them to learn something, consider how it impacted others or the community, and remember their process of reflections in order to prevent something similar from happening again. That level of conversation and processing doesn’t often fit during the day, so we have students stay after school to do so. We don’t have a ton of students serving after school time, but knowing that middle schoolers make mistakes quite often, I wanted to share this process and our philosophy. 

We have a ONE DAY food drive coming up next Wednesday. You likely saw my message earlier this week through email. We are collecting items in Advisory on Wednesday to benefit the Acton Food Pantry. Thank you for supporting your child as they may raid your own cabinets before next Wednesday.

As we approach the end of the month, I wanted to remind you all again that we are not dressing in costume this year for Halloween. This is a shift from past practice at RJ Grey, but is in line with what the elementary schools in our District are doing. So if you hear any excited talk about your child’s costume, please make sure they are referring to wearing it to family or community events, where I hope they have some fun!

Finally, if you have not already done so, please remember to activate your ParentSquare Account!  ParentSquare account emails were sent Monday 9/18 to the email address we have on file for you in PowerSchool.  Creating your ParentSquare account will allow you to personalize how you get communications from us and use the ParentSquare App.  If you did not receive an email to activate your account or need help, please contact  [email protected].

Upcoming Dates

  • Monday, October 23: Early Release at 1 pm

  • Monday, October 23: Round 1 of PE/Health classes end

  • Friday, November 3: Quarter 1 (Grey Block classes) ends

  • Monday, November 6: Library closed after school, Staff Meeting

  • Tuesday, November 7: Election Day

  • Thursday, November 9: No School for Students: Professional Day

  • Friday, November 10: No School: Veterans Day

Take care and have a great weekend!

Posted by jmarcotte On 19 October, 2023 at 2:54 PM  

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