Grey Matters
A weekly blog by RJ Grey's principal Andrew Shen

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Hi Everyone,

Though still several weeks away, I wanted to highlight an event on November 5 that I'd encourage you to attend.  Dr. Sharon Maxwell will be presenting "Who's Raising Our Kids? Nurturing Human Values in a Digital World" and the impact that "digital saturation" is having on how our children think about themselves, and is changing the way children socialize and communicate. This districtwide event will be held in the RJ Grey Auditorium
from 7:00 to 9:00pm and is open to all members of the A-B community.  While I myself haven't met Dr. Maxwell, members of our Edtech Department have engaged with her and are convinced that her guidance can be useful to our community. I am looking forward to the event, both as an educator and as a parent who knows this topic is a "thing" but doesn't always have the resolve to be firm in expectations and guidelines for use of technology within my own family - for the kids and for me.  Throughout previous editions of Grey Matters, I have confessed that this is one of the areas where Melisa and I struggle the most in terms of our efforts as parents to be proactive, consistent, and prepared to make decisions that are not only unpopular amongst the children living in our home, but would likely demand a bit more parental effort and elbow grease on my part.  As I admitted to families last year, I've taken advantage of how technology and screen time soften the edges of different parenting challenges in terms of "boredom." While I intellectually know that "boredom" can in fact be an opportunity and not a problem, that nugget of truth was conveniently ignored this past summer as we made plans for our family trip to London and Paris and didn't think twice when packing a multitude of devices that would keep the kids occupied during plane rides, train rides, and other moments of down time (using the term "occupied" is a gentle way of describing our goal of keeping the kids from fighting and complaining). These devices also allow us the ability to reach out to kids with greater ease, and communicate a change in plans or confirming this, that, or the other thing.  Instant, if not superficial, relief for frazzled parents. Additionally, the "psychological and neurological fallout" that might be developing doesn't occur within a short time span. Instead the impact is more gradual and akin to a slow boil where the effects aren't as apparent in the moment, and so it offers someone like me the ability to ignore the issue and continually push off hard decisions or shifts on our kids' access to screen time. There are always plenty of other immediate problems or dilemmas that demand our attention. If any of the above feels familiar to you, consider attending the event on November 5 - I don't know exactly what will be discussed or suggested, but I'm sure there will at least be some meaningful food for thought.

The above messaging notwithstanding, it would also be a mistake and oversimplification of things to position technology and screen time as the primary culprit of all the challenges that we're witnessing amongst adolescents today, including and especially the increase in anxiety and depression.  
That's why I read with great interest a piece in the New York Times, "Taking Away the Phones Won't Solve Our Teenagers' Problems" which included the following message to for us to consider: "Digital technology is designed to grab our attention, so it exhausts us, distracts us and detracts from our ability to nurture fulfilling relationships.  With that in mind, teenagers should reduce their reliance on smartphones...at the same time, if smartphone addition is a reflection of adolescent anxiety, cutting screen time may not solve the broader problems that drive teenagers to their screens.  Just blaming the machines is a cop-out..." For these and other reasons, I am glad that our District continues to remain committed to our Challenge Success initiative, now entering its third full year.  Challenge Success is an organization based out of Stanford University, and we partner with them to coordinate many of our efforts already underway to champion strategies that encourage the healthy self-development of our students. As a District we share the concerns that many have expressed about the increasingly competitive, pressured, and hyper-focused environment in which we seem to find ourselves.  The emphasis on encouraging a student to do one's best has often been overtaken by messages about needing to actually be the best.  As a result, there exists an intensity of expectations--on behalf of many parents/guardians and educators alike--that have emerged because of perceived risks if our kids do not pursue an increasingly narrow definition of success.  Our ongoing work around homework practices at each of our schools, and our recent shift in school start times, are just a few examples of our attention to this arena of our work.

I want to highlight two resources that are focused on outreach to the parent/guardian community on these topics.  First is the AB Wellness website which serves as a clearinghouse of information and resources on topics related to our Challenge Success work.  The second is our annual Family Learning Series which partners with several community organizations to schedule workshops and seminars throughout the year on child development and learning.  We continue to focus this year on developing resilience in children, and the next Family Learning Series event will be with Dr. Rana Chudnofsky who returns to Acton-Boxborough on October 3 and October 10, from 6:30pm to 8:30pm at West Acton Villageworks, to work with families on helping their children develop resiliency building skills.  I know and can sympathize with the busy schedules that many of our families are juggling, especially during the school year - and I hope that if any or all of the above topics are of interest to you, that you'll be able to carve out time to attend.  



A couple of important scheduling reminders for the next week or two:

Picture Day is next Monday, September 24.  Students will be receiving an order form this week to bring home to their parent/guardian.  Students who plan to order photos should bring the order form (and payment) on the 24th. Regardless of whether students order a package of photos, all students will have their photos taken so they can be included in the yearbook.  If you have any questions, please contact David Lawrence at dlawrence@abschools.org.  

There is no school this Wednesday as it is Yom Kippur.  Wishes for an easy fast to those of you who observe that holiday.  There will be no homework or assessments scheduled for the following day (Thursday).    

The vast majority of our after school clubs and activities are up and running.  A few more will have their first meetings in the next week or so.  You can view an updated list of this year's clubs and activities on the RJ Grey website (or by clicking here).  Please encourage your students to listen carefully during morning announcements for reminders about meeting times and locations.  

RJ Grey is holding its first-ever book fair this week -  September 18th, 20th, and 21st. The fair features over 600 titles that are selected to appeal specifically to a junior high audience. The book fair will sell both paperback and hardcover books with the average cost being $10. Students will have an opportunity to purchase a book (if interested) when their English class visits the fair at scheduled times and each day of the fair after school until 3pm. The book fair will accept cash, checks, and credit/debit cards. As with any program at RJ Grey that may involve a cost to families, we are happy to support any students for whom the cost of these books may present a hardship and will ensure that any interested students can select some books that may interest them.  Students and parents/guardians can address any questions they may have to their English teacher or to our Librarian Ms. Charpentier (jcharpentier@abschools.org).  

Later this week RJ Grey families will be receiving an email from me about our upcoming plans for students and staff to participate in a practice drill of our ALICE protocol.  Given the nature of the protocol I want to make sure families have an understanding of the scope and goal of the exercise.  That letter will likely be sent towards the end of this week. When you receive that letter I would appreciate you taking a few moments to review our plans for that drill.  

Another reminder that RJ Grey's Back to School Night will be on Wednesday, September 26th, starting at 7:00pm.  For those of you with children who participate in the Band, String Ensemble or Chorus programs, there is an optional meeting at 6:35pm where you can learn more about those programs. Rest assured that schedules for that evening will be coming home.  We will also have a copy of your child's schedule available at the school in case the copy that your child is supposed to give you somehow gets lost in transit. On that evening, we also ask parents to vote for two 7th grade parent/guardian representatives who will serve on this year's School Council. The role of the School Council is to review and discuss various aspects of the school's activities and goals, and offer advice and guidance about different topics that may emerge during the year. The Council will meet seven times this year, on Monday evenings at 6:30pm (the first will be October 16). We are still looking for 7th grade parents who are interested in serving on the Council.  If you have any interest, please submit a short (4-6 sentence max) paragraph about yourself by this Friday, September 21st for the ballot. Write-ups can be sent to me at ashen@abschools.org.

As many of you know, Massachusetts passed a comprehensive law in 2010 to address incidents of bullying and harassment in schools.  Among other aspects of the law, it called for every school to implement a research-based curriculum that addressed bullying prevention and prosocial behavior. This year, we are continuing our use of a curriculum created by the Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center (MARC), an organization based at Bridgewater State that has been heavily involved in the state's recent efforts to address bullying and harassment in school. This curriculum will be delivered through our RJ Grey Discussion Group meetings, the first of which is scheduled for next Tuesday the 25th.  These groups are used to introduce our ongoing goals of having conversations with students about healthy communication, problem solving, and conflict resolution.  

Similar to previous years, we will also continue to incorporate speakers and presentations that we feel can complement and expand our work in this area. For 7th grade students, we have again scheduled a great presentation by MARC specifically on cyberbullying and internet safety.  The presentation by MARC will take place for 7th grade students on December 7th and will again be led by Meghan McCoy (from MARC) who has worked with our school for several years, and is very familiar with our student audience.  

Our Fall sports programs are now in full swing. For families of students participating in our athletic programs: for away games and meets, students should expect to travel to and from those events using school transportation.  There are times that families will need to take their children immediately after the event.  For those situations, parents and guardians need to complete and submit an Athletic Transportation Use of Private Vehicles form. Your student should submit the form to the Main Office in the morning and pick it up later in the day, as it needs to be handed to the coach of the team.  Please note that we're only allowed to release students to a parent or guardian, and can not allow another individual (friend, neighbor, etc.) to serve that role.  We know that there may be times when that option may be helpful, but we're not permitted to accommodate those requests.

Finally, I want to make sure families in Acton and Boxborough are aware of a service that focuses on mental health services, and through a partnership between the school district and several local organizations, is available to everyone in our two communities. William James Interface is a local initiative in Massachusetts intending to maintain an extensive, frequently updated website listing of available mental health resources by geography and type, and provides a free, confidential mental health and wellness referral line Monday through Friday, 9 am-5 pm, at 888-244-6843. Callers are matched with licensed mental health providers that meet the location, insurance, and specialty needs of the caller.  Each referral is provided with follow-up assistance. For more information, you can visit the Interface website here.

Have a great week, everyone.

Cheers,
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Posted by ashen  On Sep 16, 2018 at 4:41 PM
  

Hi Everyone,


At my house last week there were plenty of signs that we were shifting from summer vacation to the start of a new school year - backpacks were lined up on the counter, alarm clocks were back in use, and the next day’s lunches were prepared each night.  And then there were other things about last week that were indistinguishable from the previous weeks of summer, the two most prominent being the soaring temperatures and that the number of moments of sibling bickering in our house remained well above three thousand per day.  This year, my children enter 8th grade, 6th grade, and 4th grade. Let’s all pause here for a moment of silence so that you and I can mentally send our best wishes to each other for the range of interesting and colorful moments we will likely experience over the next several months, with mine certainly shaped by that particular combination of teenager/adolescents.  My experiences last year with my oldest son as he traveled through 7th grade (not at RJ Grey) made for both a personal and professional journey given my role as a middle school principal. Plenty of joyful moments along with stretches of time when my son would argue that my status as a middle school principal actually made me even less qualified to be of help and perspective. As for how consistently I practiced the strategies that I encouraged RJ Grey parents and guardians to consider? Probably 75% of the time, and I could also be unconsciously padding my success rate a bit here.  I expect that this collision of personal and professional worlds will continue as he enters 8th grade and my daughter enters 6th grade, and I look forward to another year of comparing notes and strategies with many of you as we all try and do the best we can in what certainly feels like a world that is constantly shifting underneath our feet.  As we begin this school year, I am including a link to an article in the Washington Post that I’ve shared the past two years that offers suggestions for how parents (and guardians) can stay connected and engaged with their teenage sons.  This has been a favorite of mine as it offered me practical suggestions that I’ve found to be effective (use car rides for conversations) and some important reminders about exercising a bit more patience in certain circumstances, and leaving room for silence.  I hope that you and your kids have had a successful start of this school year and that our 7th graders, and students new to AB, are feeling good about their transition to RJ Grey.   


We just completed our first week of school where start times for the Junior High was pushed back by thirty (30) minutes (and 49 minutes later at the High School) to better accommodate the sleep needs of young adolescents, a topic that our community has discussed and prioritized over the past few years.  Something to monitor is the news that the California legislature just passed a bill that would require all public schools in that state to start school no earlier than 8:30am by 2021.  It’s currently awaiting a response/signature from the governor of California (a title, by the way, that I can no longer read or say without hearing Arnold Schwarzenegger’s voice).  More locally, Harvard is requiring all of it’s freshmen to complete an online course about sleep before they arrive on campus as part of a push to educate all students about the importance of healthy sleeping habits.   It may take a bit of time for the full impact and benefits of our start time change here at Acton-Boxborough to be understood, and it’s something for us to review and discuss as the year progresses.  For parents and guardians who had students attend RJ Grey and/or the High School in previous years, I hope that even within the first week of school some of the anticipated benefits have presented themselves within your homes.


This year, the Shen family will have four separate Back to School Night events to attend. Our fourth and final Back to School Night later this month is mine - which is also all of yours. RJ Grey’s Back to School Night will be on Wednesday, September 26th, starting at 7:00pm.  For those of you with children who participate in the Band, String Ensemble or Chorus programs, there is an optional meeting at 6:35pm where you can learn more about those programs. Parents should head straight for their child’s homeroom (schedules for that evening will be coming home before that evening) and I am going to travel with all of you to your kids’ classes throughout the evening, and hopefully we’ll have a few moments here and there to connect.  


On that evening, we also ask parents to vote for two 7th grade parent/guardian representatives who will serve on this year's School Council. The role of the School Council is to review and discuss various aspects of the school's activities and goals, and offer advice and guidance about different topics that may emerge during the year. The Council will meet seven times this year, on Monday evenings at 6:30pm (the first will be October 15). We are looking for 7th grade parents who are interested in serving on the Council.  If you have any interest, please submit a short (4-6 sentence max) paragraph about yourself by noon on Friday, September 21st for the ballot. Write-ups can be sent to me at ashen@abschools.org.


At Back to School Night, you will see a number of tables hosting a few different school-related organizations, including the PTSO. The PTSO is the parent organization that works with both RJ Grey and the high school to facilitate communication between the schools and the parent community, and supports the schools through various volunteer activities and forums.  The JH/HS PTSO is structured a bit differently in that they make a single financial request for the entire year -- a $50 membership donation, and there are no additional parent/guardian fundraisers that take place. You can download the membership registration form by clicking here.  Along with funding a number of projects, events, and equipment at the Junior High and High School, a membership entitles you to a free student directory (which you pick up that night).  This year, the funds that the PTSO provided to RJ Grey is one reason we are able to continue providing every student with a Student Planbook at no charge, and why we have some great new tables and chairs in the lobby outside of the cafeteria. To learn more about the PTSO, you can visit their site by clicking here.  


Here’s a few other scheduling reminders and notes you might want to keep in mind for the next few weeks:


Our annual school picture day is Monday, Sept. 24. In the next two weeks we will be distributing picture order forms to all students. Regardless of whether families order photos, each child will have his/her photo taken so we can include them in the yearbook. If you would like to order photos but the costs associated with the options would present a financial hardship, I would encourage you to contact David Lawrence at dlawrence@abschools.org. Each year, we have worked with our vendor to find ways for any family who wants a set of photos to receive one.


A friendly reminder that this year our school musical will be “Annie” and audition workshops will be taking place this week.  Audition workshops will be held on Sept. 12 (for Music) and Sept. 13 (for Dance), and attendance at both workshops is mandatory.  The auditions themselves are schedule for Sept. 18 and Sept. 20, and attendance is expected for both days as well. Visit our Theatre Arts page for additional details and information.  


Within the next two weeks, most of our after school clubs and activities will have had their first meetings with interested students.  The updated list of clubs and activities is now ready to share and you can review it by clicking here, and we’ll also post it on our website.  This year we will again be offering Fit Club and we do require students to sign up ahead of time (there’s no cost, just need a head count). To sign up or if you have questions about Fit Club, you can email Katy Frey at kfrey@abschools.org.  


Our Cross Country program will host its informational meeting for all interested students on Tuesday, September 11 at 2:45pm in the auditorium.  The Cross Country team does not have cuts, and all interested students are welcome to join. Practice starts on September 12 and are held Monday through Friday starting at 2:40pm.  The head coach for the team is Elizabeth Muff and she can be reached at elizabethmuff@gmail.com.  


Acton-Boxborough will continue to provide a Late Bus option for students at the Junior High and High School.  Here is a link to the memo that provides details about this service (including a link to the list of planned stops), which will begin starting this Tuesday, September 11.  The Late Bus will pick up students at the Junior High at 4:45pm.  


By now I hope most of you have had an opportunity to visit our school website - rjgrey.abschools.org.  We make every effort to keep the site current, and you can access a number of important school documents and connect to individual teacher websites. Every team also maintains a shared online homework calendar that can also be accessed through our school website (7th grade teams here, 8th grade teams here).  In addition, we have a lively active and useful social media presence on both Twitter and Instagram - please consider signing up for one or both!  It may also be something that your students may want to consider following as well.  These accounts will repeat some information that will always be included in our Daily Announcements, and also gives us a platform to share some fun photos and notes about activities taking place within the school.  


I’m pleased to share that the  R.J. Grey Artist of the Month program is continuing this year.  This program launched last February, and is the brainchild of 8th grade art teacher Mrs. Vlajinac.  The goal of this program is to provide 7th and 8th Graders and opportunities to have an authentic, juried art exhibition experience similar to the process in which professional artists participate.  Since this event is supposed to mimic a real world, professional artist experience, not all students that apply will become RJG Artists of the Month. However, Ms. Vlajinac offers this important reminder to students who may have an interest in participating: “If you are not selected to be RJG AofM, DON’T STOP MAKING ART!!  If you are not selected it only means that there were a handful of people that had work that was just a bit stronger than yours…  Not being selected doesn’t mean that you are terrible at art or that we don’t like you as a person.  Quite the opposite actually!  We appreciate that you took a chance and put yourself/artwork out there. Doing that is SUPER BRAVE and you should be proud for even trying! To learn more about the RJG Artist of the Month process click here.


I’m also excited to be sharing with everyone our continued efforts to promote Rise to the Challenge, which is something we started last year as a way of recognizing student involvement in community service.  We know that many students are already participating in service activities outside of school, and we hope to celebrate those efforts along with encouraging more students to become active in service opportunities.  Students who complete 10 hours of service within the school year will be recognized for their efforts. Please visit the community service page on our website that provides all the details for this program. If you have any questions, please email Debbie Brookes at dbrookes@abschools.org.  


Finally, a message from our Librarian, Ms. Charpentier: “RJ Grey is holding its first-ever book fair on September 18th, 20th, and 21st. The book fair will feature the newest young adult fiction and non-fiction titles along with a host of award-winning classics. The fair features over 600 titles that are selected to appeal specifically to a junior high audience. The book fair will sell both paperback and hardcover books with the average cost being $10. Students will have an opportunity to purchase a book (if interested) when their English class visits the fair at scheduled times and each day of the fair after school until 3pm.” The book fair will accept cash, checks, and credit/debit cards. As with any program at RJ Grey that may involve a cost to families, we are happy to support any students for whom the cost of these books may present a hardship and will ensure that any interested students can select some books that may interest them.  Students and parents/guardians can address any questions they may have to their English teacher or to Ms. Charpentier in the library.


Have a great week, everyone.


Cheers,

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Posted by ashen  On Sep 11, 2018 at 2:44 PM
  

Hi Everyone,


Welcome and welcome back to RJ Grey. I hope this year’s first edition of Grey Matters finds each of you well.  To be sure, not nearly enough time has passed between today and last year’s closing assembly that Student Council President Tycho Dickerson opened with the remark, “It’s June 27, what are we all still doing here?!”  Despite the brevity of this particular summer, the Shen’s were able to to reach another family milestone that came in the form of our first overseas trip that included visits to both London and Paris. Our time in those cities certainly benefited from a healthy amount of advanced planning on our part, allowing us to secure tickets to a few plays in London, a Premier League football match, and a bike tour of Versailles. Along with those and other highlights, our trip also included a few impromptu activities and unscripted moments that made for memorable experiences, including a bit of accidental sightseeing by yours truly.  On our first morning in London, I decided to embark on what I wanted to be a 4-mile run as a way to explore the area where we’d be staying for the week. Despite having spent my entire life with a horrible sense of direction, I convinced myself that I could rely primarily on instinct to guide me on a roundtrip running route through an unfamiliar neighborhood, within a foreign city, of which I had yet to see in daylight. Once the running app on my phone announced that I was nearing four miles, and I arrived at a large park area, I thought to myself, “hmm… maybe I’ve reached Battersea Park?” You’ll notice to the right a screenshot of my eventual running route that reveals a few things: (1) how far away I actually was from Battersea Park (see bottom right corner of map - despite not having crossed the Thames River I somehow still thought I might have ended up at Battersea); and (2) just how disoriented I was - clearly taking lefts when I needed to take a right, and taking rights when I should have taken a left if I wanted to end up back where I started.  Though running willy nilly through the streets of South Kensington and arriving in Hyde Park wasn’t the original plan, it ended up being a delightful (albeit much longer) run that brought me to areas and sites that we wouldn’t be visiting during our time in London. It was an unexpected and helpful reminder that not every meaningful experience is scripted and planned with exact detail, and there are plenty of situations where a bit of spontaneity can offer a path to something memorable and worthwhile. My hope is that like my family’s vacation, your time this summer was satisfying and perhaps benefited from a combination of planned activities, travel, and good company, with at least a few unplanned and random -- but no less memorable -- adventures thrown in for good measure. As I mentioned to the staff at RJ Grey, my sense is that like an enjoyable vacation adventure, the makings of a good school year - for our staff, for students, and for families -- includes a mixture of advanced planning while also allowing for certain things to unfold over time. It also requires giving ourselves permission to take a few detours here and there, and on occasion trying things without a clear destination. Within those important plans, routines and structures that you and we have put into place for this coming year, I would encourage each of us to be available and open during the year to moments when trying something a bit different or permitting something unexpected to play out a bit longer might offer our students and families a valuable experience.


As we all prepare to enter this first week of school I know you share our excitement and hopes for a strong start to the school year.  For those new to RJ Grey, please be assured that we dedicate these first few days to helping every student get acclimated to one’s surroundings, and we know that there’s a lot to take in during these first few days.  We will have opening assemblies for both grades, and the 7th grade assembly includes a short welcome video that we hope offers students a snapshot of what will be part of their school year. I will end that assembly emphasizing that our goal for our opening activities is for each of them to leave knowing  how excited we are to have them at RJ Grey this year.


For those of you who might be visiting RJ Grey during the day, please remember that visitors can only enter through the front door, where they will request entry by ringing a buzzer.  Once the front door has been unlocked for you to enter, you will need to check in at the Main Office window where you’ll be greeted by Ms. Katy Frey, who is our front office receptionist (also known in our office, and various corners of Acton and Boxborough, as the Executive Director of Office Affairs).  


For those who plan to drop off your children in the morning, I look forward to seeing you bright and early in the lower parking lot. While some of the morning traffic can be a bit of a nuisance, I have shared this site with families at the start of the last few school years as a way to offer some perspective on some of the traffic woes that we might experience over the course of the upcoming year.  For those families who are veterans of the drop-off circus process, thank you for your patience as we help new families adjust to our morning traffic routines.  


By now I hope most of you have had an opportunity to visit our school website - rjgrey.abschools.org.  We make every effort to keep the site current, and you can access a number of important school documents and connect to individual teacher websites. Every team also maintains a shared online homework calendar that can also be accessed through our school website.  In addition, we have both an RJ Grey Twitter account and Instagram account - please consider signing up for one or both!  These accounts will repeat some information that will always be included in our Daily Announcements, and also gives us a platform to share some fun photos and notes about activities taking place within the school.  


There’s a few upcoming events and activities that I want to make sure families have on their respective radars:


A friendly reminder that we do not have school next Monday, September 13 as it is Rosh Hashana.  A happy new year to those of you who observe that holiday.  There will be no homework or assessments scheduled to be due for the following day (Tuesday).


Our Fall interscholastic sports programs start this Wednesday, September 6 in terms

of tryouts (except for Cross Country which is a no-cut program, and has an informational meeting at the start of the following week).  For all information on our Athletics programs, visit this page.  Please remember that all students who plan to participate in tryouts must have completed the “Family ID” registration process.  This process is taking the place of the paper “Green Forms” that were required in prior years. Details and instructions are posted on our Athletics website.


This year, our school musical will be Annie and auditions will be taking place later this month. Audition workshops will be held on Sept. 12 (for Music) and Sept. 13 (for Dance), and attendance at both workshops is mandatory.  The auditions themselves are schedule for Sept. 18 and Sept. 20, and attendance is expected for both days as well. Visit our Theatre Arts page for additional details and information.  


Our annual School Picture Day is scheduled for Monday, September 24th.  When we get closer to that date, we will send an order form home with students.  No need to prepare for it now, just wanted you all to know the date.


Within the next week or two, our website will include a list of clubs and afterschool activities that are open for all students to join. We’re hoping to offer many of the same clubs and activities as previous years, along with some new offerings that emerge over the course of the year.  


This coming week will include a few safety-related activities and conversations with the students, and so I want to make mention and provide important reminders about both the technical and relationship-focused strategies that are associated with our efforts to maintain a safe learning environment.  As previously mentioned above, our schools have locked entrances during the school day and a protocol for entering the school. Additionally, there are cameras positioned (only) in the main entrance and hallway areas within the school. These decisions did not come lightly and certainly speak to the increasing complexities and responsibilities that school districts must address regarding student safety and addressing behaviors that might violate community values. What I want to emphasize to families is that those practices don’t replace our more important efforts and dedication to developing relationships with students that focus on a culture of mutual respect.  In the classroom, on teams, and as a whole school, we know how essential it is to emphasize messaging about our individual and shared responsibilities for establishing a positive school climate for everyone. Helping students this age develop skills and strategies to manage peer conflicts, difficult conversations, and decision making during challenging moments are not only “school safety strategies”, but are in and of themselves a part of the learning experience that is central to a successful middle school education.


Along with the first of four fire drills that we hold annually, we’ll also be hosting two all-grade assemblies to re-introduce students to the recently adopted ALICE protocol.   Given that ALICE training is specifically focused on responding to a situation involving an armed intruder, we do plan to approach our conversation with students as thoughtfully as possible.  Students at this age present an interesting dilemma - they are usually savvy enough to quickly see through any use of ambiguous language to describe why we are introducing ALICE. At the same time, we have to be mindful of the fact that 12 to 14-year olds still need help processing what is an inherently messy and upsetting topic. We want students to have an appropriate level of awareness and preparation, and we also want avoid having the experience be anxiety-inducing.  So it’s a delicate balance we work hard to establish and of which we are mindful during our presentations.


Finally, Back to School Night will be on Wednesday, September 26 - save the date!  On that evening, we ask parents to vote for two 7th grade parent/guardian representatives who will serve on this year's School Council.  The School Council is comprised of 4 parents, three RJ Grey staff members, and yours truly. The role of the School Council is to review and discuss various aspects of the school's activities and goals, and offer advice and guidance about different topics that may emerge during the year.  The Council will meet seven times this year, on Monday evenings (October 16 being the first one). We are again looking for two 7th grade parents to serve a two-year term.  If you are a 7th grade parent interested in serving on the Council, please submit a short (4-6 sentences) paragraph about yourself by noon on Friday, September 21st. Write-ups can be sent to me at ashen@abschools.org.  


Have a great week, everyone.  Welcome back.

Cheers,  

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Posted by ashen  On Sep 11, 2018 at 2:43 PM
  

Hi Everyone,


My parents moved to the United States from Taiwan in the early 1970s to continue their graduate studies.  My father was studying electrical engineering and my mother is a classically trained musician whose two children subsequently studied the cello (me) and the flute/piano (my sister) and throughout our childhood streams of students would come to our house each afternoon for music lessons, and those lessons in some respects became the soundtrack to the early part of our lives.  All these things contributed to my limited exposure to popular American music during my childhood. I was initially raised on a healthy diet of classical music, John Denver (as previously shared), and….. Rosemary Clooney (don’t ask) - that’s all that was ever played in the car. When I was in 5th grade I took on a paper route for the Boston Globe that required early morning delivery and so I commandeered my parents’ clock radio which, for those who grew up in the Boston area during the 1980s, was set at WSSH 99.5, a station that featured adult contemporary music with playlists that emphasized artists like Phil Collins, Neil Diamond and Bette Midler.  Of course, not knowing any better, I developed the mistaken impression that this station was playing the newest music at the time, that I’d finally been exposed to what was hip and fresh, and that my knowing all the words to Bette Midler’s The Rose and Phil Collins’ A Groovy Kind of Love put me on par with everyone else when it came to popular trending music. Finally, in the early 1990s, a friend of mine gave me a bunch of music by U2 - the band that was developing its status as the biggest rock band on the planet - and I spent the next few years obsessing over their music and their story.  During that time, their Zoo TV tour brought them to the old Foxborough Stadium in 1992 and a different friend somehow secured us tickets to the concert and this just added more fuel to my newly developed obsession.  All of this became for me an entrypoint to discovering a whole new expanded landscape of music.


I share the above story now for a few reasons.  First, my kids and I have reached the stage where we disagree pretty regularly about what music should be played in the car.  That’s not an experience I myself had growing up, but that I have read about as a common rite of passage amongst parents and their children - perhaps a few of you can relate and have also been asking out loud, “what’s so great about Drake?” There are fewer and fewer Top 40 songs that are familiar to me, and that remotely interest me.  This divide in musical tastes was also on full display last Friday at the 7th grade dance (more on the dance below) where your kids were incredibly enthusiastic and inspired by the music blaring from the speakers and where I was developing a small migraine. I’m trying to remind myself that this was probably what my parents felt about my eventual discovery of popular music in the early 90s and I need to remind myself that my own lack of interest or enjoyment in that music isn’t necessarily what matters in those moments in the car or at the dance.  Thinking of this collision of musical tastes reminded me of an article I read in the New York Times last February, The Songs that Bind, about the idea of musical nostalgia and the belief that later in life, the majority of us stick with the music that captured us in our teenage years.  As for why this happens, a recent follow up article on this subject summarized the research well:  “research has shown how our favourite songs stimulate our pleasure responses in the brain… the more we like a song, the more of these chemicals flow through our body. This happens for everyone, but during our adolescent years our brains are going through a lot of changes. We're also incredibly hormonal and sensitive, so if we hear a song we really love, it's more likely to stay with us forever.  That isn't to say you won't hear a new song you love in later life — it just might not elicit the same strong response because you aren't such a sponge anymore.” This idea of musical nostalgia is also probably why I am irrationally giddy about this Thursday --I have not seen U2 live since that first concert in Foxborough twenty-six years ago, but will see them again on Thursday at their concert at TD Garden as a Father’s Day present from Melisa and the kids - they win for best present idea within the Shen household this year.  My kids don’t particularly care for my music, but they respect that it makes me happy and they are excited for my upcoming concert, and it’s a good reminder that I should offer a similar respect and enthusiasm for their developing tastes.  A Happy Father’s Day to any and all of you who also celebrated the event this past weekend.  


Here’s some reminders for this last full week of school:  


We expect the temperatures on Monday to rise into the 90s tomorrow (Monday) by mid-day.  Some classrooms and spaces in the Junior High are air conditioned, most classrooms are not.  We will remind students to stay hydrated and I would encourage you to send them to school with a water bottle that they can refill during the day.  


If your child is not planning to attend RJ Grey or the High School next year, please be sure to let us know.  We have to officially confirm your family’s plans to withdraw your child from the school system, and can also assist you in transferring records and other information to your child’s next school.  Please email our registrar Lena Jarostchuk (ljarostchuk@abschools.org) with that information.  


Does your child have an RJ Grey Library book or old textbook buried under some laundry?  Teachers will begin the process of collecting textbooks and other learning materials, so anything you can do to help unearth these items would be greatly appreciated (and save you some money).  Also, for families who might have a negative balance in their child’s lunch account, please be sure to reconcile that matter as well.  If you have questions about your lunch account, feel free to email Kirsten Nelson at knelson@abschools.org


The end-of-year field trips are on June 26th- next Tuesday.  Both 7th grade and 8th grade students will be back from their respective trips in time to be dismissed at the regular 2:06pm time and can take the buses home.  If your child is not planning on attending either trip (or simply won’t be at school by that point), please be sure to email Katy Frey (kfrey@abschools.org).  


We had a great turnout for last Friday’s 7th grade celebration, and from what I could tell the students had a great time (hopefully that’s what they shared with all of you).  The success of any event such as Friday night’s event hinges on the dedication and hard work of some RJ Grey staff and parent volunteers.  This dance, and next week’s 8th grade dance, wouldn’t be possible without the work of Debbie Ahl, 8th grade English teacher and Student Council advisor.  Tracey Estabrook graciously took on the task of organizing parent donations and staffing the food tables during the event, and we are enormously grateful for her efforts last week, and really for the past few years.  Thank you to Kate and the other parents and guardians for setting up and staffing the food and drink table last Friday evening.


The 8th Grade End-of-Year Celebration is this Friday at 7pm!  Thank you to the parents and guardians who have already volunteered and signed up for one or more of the roles that are listed on the Sign Up form for this event.  We could still use a few more volunteers to make sure that everything runs smoothly - if you’re able to participate please sign up by following this link to a Sign Up Genius:  8th Grade Celebration Help.  If you have questions, contact Carol Chytil at carol.chytil@gmail.com. For those of you bringing kids to the school that evening, this event is held in our (transformed) cafeteria and students enter through the side door (you’ll see it); so parents who are dropping kids off can pull right up to the front of the school.  When picking kids up after the event, we would suggest parking in the lower parking lot and either waiting in the car, or coming up to the entrance to meet your kids (your options probably depend on the degree to which your child allows you to be seen in public with them).  I’ll send out a reminder to 8th grade families this Friday, but in advance please be mindful of the 9:30pm end time and a plan where your child will be picked up by 9:45pm that evening.


Congratulations to the students and staff on 7 Blue for the successful completion of their inaugural RJ Grey CANstruction project and food drive.  Their goal was to receive donations of 1000 cans of food that they would first use to design and make a structure that would be on display in the lobby, and then eventually would be donated to the Acton Food Pantry.


At the end of every school year, we send off our 8th grade students and wish them well as most of them make their way down the street to the high school, while others join private schools, enroll in a vocational program, or are moving out of Acton or Boxborough.  This year, we are also preparing to bid farewell to four retiring members of the RJ Grey staff, as they begin new chapters of their lives as well. Lynne Bover (30 years), Mark Hickey (24 years), Mary Fran Doiron (23 years), and Cheryl Carter-Miller (9 years) are completing distinguished careers as educators.  Celebrating the retirements of our colleagues is always bittersweet; we are happy they’re in a position to pursue other interests, and we’ll also miss them deeply.  If you and/or your children have some fond memories of working with any of these teachers and staff members, I would encourage you to drop them a quick note and join us in thanking them for their years of service to RJ Grey and all of its students.  


Have a great week, everyone. We’re almost there!


Cheers,

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Posted by dlawrence  On Jul 10, 2018 at 2:27 PM
  

Hi Everyone,


We recently we had our last round of Everyday Leaders, bringing our total number of students recognized this year through this effort to a little over 60. During my lunch last Thursday with the 8th grade Everyday Leaders I took advantage of the moment and asked them a barrage of questions on an issue that still dominates my household.  I am of course talking about Fortnite.  I recently shared with families some articles about the Fortnite phenomenon, and since then I have carved out a few moments to ask my oldest son about the game that seems to have a hold on his attention.  So my questions to the group of 8th graders in my office were asked as part of my “trust but verify” approach to what had previously been shared with me at home.  One of the more disappointing aspects of gaming (I think this extends to most multiplayer games) that the students confirmed for me is that only one individual can play on a console at a time.  So unless you have more than one gaming console and a separate television set up in the room, “playing” with and “spending time” with your friends playing these games means that you are physically apart and likely each in your respective homes as you connect virtually (and through the headset glued to my son’s head).  I didn’t realize the days of my friends and I playing Legends of Zelda together are specks in the rearview mirror.  This is an issue I’ve been giving a bit of thought to as we approach the summer months and my goal of creating conditions in our home that push our children to situations that involve human contact and unstructured time with friends and contemporaries.  Back to our Everyday Leaders for a moment, congratulations (and thanks for the insight about Fortnite and the conversation in general) to Ryan Brady, Eli Jarsky, Avery Mathews, Djeana Timas, Sarah Verner, Ofri Eizman, Ashwin Krishnamurthy, Sid Chatrath, Vanessa Conley, and Dominic Flumo.  


A few quick and friendly reminders about the next two and a half weeks:


Does your child have an RJ Grey Library book or old textbook buried under some

laundry?  Teachers will begin the process of collecting textbooks and other learning

materials, so anything you can do to help unearth these items would be greatly

appreciated (and save you some money).  Also, for families who might have a negative

balance in their child’s lunch account, please be sure to reconcile that matter as well.  If

you have questions about your lunch account, feel free to email Kirsten Nelson at

knelson@abschools.org


The end-of-year field trips are on June 26th. Both 7th graders and 8th graders will

return from their respective trips before 2:06pm so they can take the buses home or be

picked up by families.  If your student is not planning on attending school for some or all

of that final week, please call or email Katy Frey (kfrey@abschools.org).  


The District’s Late Bus service will be ending on Friday, June 22 (meaning that the last

run will be on that Friday).  There will be NO late bus service on June 25, 26, or 27.  We

are pleased that the Late Bus service was consistently used by students at both the

Junior High and High School, and looking forward to offering it again next year.  


Our 7th Grade Dance is this Friday, June 15 from 7:00pm to 9:00pm in the gymnasium, and then the 8th Grade End of Year Dance/Celebration is the following Friday, June 22 from 7:00pm to 9:30pm in the cafeteria.  Many thanks to the parents and guardians who have volunteered their time and/or made donations towards these two events.  As we approach these two events, we certainly want to focus on the celebratory aspects, and our goal of having an event where students can enjoy themselves and spend a bit of time with classmates and friends.  Part of our preparation does require a bit of attention to rules and expectations for these events, and homeroom teachers will be reviewing some of those guidelines later this week. As we get ready to share an overview of those rules, I am again reminded of the This American Life episode from 2011 that included a feature on middle school dances and an interview with two students who were perplexed by the “no petting” rule that their school emphasized before the dance, and wondering “do people sit at dances and pet other people? That’s weird.”  We have not codified a “No Petting” rule at RJ Grey, but we would ask students and families to keep in mind reasonable expectations about behaviors on the dance floor (let’s avoid lifting classmates into the air, pushing/shoving/chasing) and at the event in general (staying within designated areas). Please also note that only current RJ Grey students are allowed to attend, and guests from other schools are not permitted.  Additionally, students need to attend school the day of the dance/celebration in order to particulate in the event later that evening. For parents and guardians, we ask you to please arrange a pick-up plan where students will be off-campus no later than 15 minutes after the dance.  We are fortunate that we have many staff members who have volunteered to chaperone these events and I want to make sure that we respect their time and desire to get home at a reasonable hour.  


The last reminder that students will receive this week about the upcoming dances is about school expectations and restrictions related to, among other things, possession and use of nicotine and e-cigarettes.  Earlier this year I introduced to families through Grey Matters an emerging trend called vaping (also referred to as “juuling”) - which involves the use of electronic cigarettes.  As part of that introduction, I included a link to a Boston Globe article that offered a concise description of vaping and the challenges that exist because of how the new technology is more readily available and easier to mask (they look like thumb drives).  The use of e-cigarettes is growing in prevalence amongst teens across the country and there are more indications that we aren’t immune to this trend at RJ Grey and we’re going to need to partner with families to address this issue more aggressively.  My sense is that amongst the student population, there’s a good bit of talk about how prevalent vaping might be within the school. While my gut tells me it’s not as high as some of the chatter has suggested, I don’t doubt that usage has increased within certain social circles and it’s definitely a situation that demands our attention in the months ahead.  Plans for offering more education to families, students and staff about vaping/e-cigarettes is written in bold red letters on the whiteboard in my office, and it’s a project we’ll be working on this summer. Parents, guardians and schools will need to find effective ways to disrupt the belief by adolescents that these activities are safe and risk-free endeavors.  Unfortunately, our plans will also need to include identifying options related to any possible methods for detecting use of these products at school and clarifying for everyone the consequences and disciplinary outcomes that might be involved.  In the meantime, I would ask parents and guardians to consider reading the Globe article I referenced above, familiarize yourself with this trend, and engage your child in a conversation about it.


Finally, we had our most recent edition of Poetry Friday at the end of last week, and it was another piece written by an RJ Grey student, this time 8th grader Kyra McCraken who read “The Kid at the Back of the Class.”  Many thanks to Kyra for sharing her writing with the school last Friday.  


Have a great week, everyone.


Cheers,

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Posted by dlawrence  On Jul 10, 2018 at 2:26 PM
  

Hi Everyone,


I’m wondering if there’s an unwritten rule that the school principal is forbidden to be the person within a school community who is most excited for the arrival of Summer.  Or at least forbidden from being open and public about that excitement. Given how long this particular school year has felt to almost all of us, I’m guessing that most of you will forgive me for any added enthusiasm for the Summer that I might articulate over the next few weeks, and that I probably have quite a bit of competition amongst parents, guardians, students, and staff for the title of “Most Excited for Summer.”  I’ve got a soft spot (and as a result, a softer belly) for fried seafood, so I’m looking forward to frequent visits throughout the summer months to clam shacks and ice cream stands in and around New England.  I’ve also begun generating my own summer reading plans that begins with Witness, by Karen Hesse, which is a text that all 7th grade students read as part of the English curriculum.  Second on the list is The Astonishing Color of After, which is a young adult novel that has received quite a bit of attention, including top billing in a recent New York Times article that offers reviews of young adult texts to consider picking up this summer.  For those of you who are eager to help your children be open to some pleasure reading over the summer, a few resources for you: (1) our RJ Grey librarian Ms. Charpentier has put together a recommended summer reading list that you can view here, and 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) the High School has released its updated 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 the Junior High nor the High School do not have any required summer reading, but we all want to encourage students to find something to enjoy and read.  


Here’s a few reminders for you and your kids:


An important reminder for 7th grade families that the RJ Grey Student Council will be

hosting the 7th Grade Celebration/Dance in the school gym this Friday, June 15 from

7-9 pm.


Have you sent in your child’s permission slip for the end-of-year Kimballs (7th) or

Canobie (8th) trip?  Thanks in advance for your attention to this.  


If your child has books and materials from our Library, please remind them to begin

returning those items.  We know that it often takes a bit longer to really get everything

returned (and sometimes requires more than one reminder, occasionally four or five…).


On a related note, I do want to make families aware of textbook “obligations.”  Over the

next few weeks, teachers will begin collecting textbooks, library books, and other

materials that need to be returned to the school. Please work with your children on

locating textbooks that might be hidden under piles of laundry, and avoid replacement

fees (some of which can reach a painful $75 for a textbook).


If your child is not planning to be at school during the last day(s) of the school year, we

would appreciate it if you let us know so we can plan accordingly and account for

students during those days.  You can send an email to Katy Frey (kfrey@abschools.org)

and it would also be helpful if you let your child’s team teachers know as well.  


Don’t forget about the Empty Bowls event tomorrow - Monday, June 4 from 5:30pm to 7:00pm!   This is an evening of art, singing and ice cream! Students will showcase their art and singing talents and invite families to a charity ice cream social.  There will be an art show, Select Choir performance, a silent auction, and of course the charity ice cream social. The money raised from this event will be donated to the Acton Community Supper and Acton Food Pantry.  The ice cream social is $5 per person with a $20 family maximum. The rest of the event is free and we hope many of you are able to carve out some time to join us.


The RJ Grey CANstruction project being led by students on 7 Blue will continue through this Friday, June 8th.  Their goal is to receive donations of 1000 cans of food, with all donations going to the Acton Food Pantry.  They are happy to accept cash donations as well and purchase the cans that will first be used to build the display being constructed in the lobby during the last week of school, and designed by 7 Blue students.  Through the Empty Bowls event and this CANstruction project, please consider participating in efforts that will ultimately benefit an important community agency that supports families in need.


Here’s another reminder about the End-of-Year 8th Grade Dance/Celebration scheduled for the evening of Friday, June 22.  Parents or guardians of 7th and 8th graders are needed for the following jobs: set up after school on June 22nd; clean up after the dance; food and drink donations.  In past years, 7th grade Parent/Guardian Volunteers "pay it forward" so that parents of 8th graders can focus on their own children's participation in this important event.  Please sign up if you can help us with setup/cleanup activities or with food donations by following this link to a Sign Up Genius:  8th Grade Celebration Help.  If you have questions, contact Carol Chytil at carol.chytil@gmail.com.

An important note about our end-of-year field trips on Tuesday, June 26, regarding transportation home at the end of the day for 8th grade students.  In previous years, 8th graders did not return from Canobie until after 3:00pm and so we asked the Transportation office to schedule an additional bus run for our students.  This year, Canobie Lake is opening its doors earlier in the day which will allow us to arrive there around 9:00am and return to RJ Grey before our typical 2:06pm dismissal and utilize the regularly scheduled bus routes.  I wanted to share this change for families who have had other children attend this trip in previous years and might wonder about timing. 7th grade students attending the Kimball Farms trip will continue to return to RJ Grey before the end of the school day.  

Congratulations to 7th grader Joy Wang who was named Artist of the Month for this June. 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.  Joy and her artwork were chosen for the month of June and she is posing with one of her pieces in the photo to the left.  When asked about her artistic interests, she notes that,Usually, when I find some animal, or an interesting plant, or a funny picture-I save the moment so I can draw it later and remember it. Though most of the time, I just doodle randomly while listening to music, sometimes continuing to finish the product.”  You can view more of Joy’s work by clicking here.  


I mentioned in early April that we were planning to collect updated information from our current students about their homework and workload experiences at RJ Grey.  We know that as we continue to try new things in our classrooms, incorporate new materials and objectives, and engage with different groups of students, it’s helpful to collect updated information and see if there have been any substantive changes within this part of the student experience at RJ Grey.  The students completed this survey shortly after we returned from April Break, and I wanted to share the results with all of you along with some initial thoughts and what questions I might be asking as I enter the summer. Below is a chart that shows the responses of 7th and 8th grade RJ Grey students when asked about average nightly school-assigned homework during weekdays (Monday thru Thursday):

When asked how they feel about the quantity of the homework that is typically assigned, this is how students in both grades responded:

As I have mentioned in previous messages, our staff continues to look at our homework practices from a number of different angles and how best to support our students in their efforts to engage successfully with homework that is assigned.  As you know, we are implementing the school wide 20-minute Study Period next year that all students will have with their team teachers. Big picture, I am fairly pleased to see that a significant percentage of our students report spending no more than 1.5 hours on homework on average (with many students reporting closer to an hour or less).  I think that’s a healthy place to be -- where we are continuing to ask students to engage in academic work outside of class, but not to the point where the workload creates what would essentially look and feel like a second shift of school.


While I think the results suggest that we’re overall in a healthy place with workload, I’m not ignoring the fact that we still have a decent sized cohort of students who believe they have too much homework and another cohort that reported two hours or more of work nightly (and it’s not necessarily the same students who are in both cohorts).  I’m curious about their viewpoint and want to learn a bit more about their experiences and what might be contributing to this outcome. As our District continues to engage in our approach to homework and workload across all grades and schools, I hope that the results from this most recent survey of our students proves helpful in the conversations that families and individual school communities have about transitions to and from the Junior High.  


Have a great week, everyone.  


Cheers,

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Posted by dlawrence  On Jul 10, 2018 at 2:19 PM
  

Hi Everyone,


It’s my hope that during this Memorial Day long weekend you each found yourself benefiting from a bit of extra sleep on at least one of the three days, and was also able to avoid the long stretches of holiday traffic that experts predicted would be worse than previous years.  On the subject of sleep, the Journal of Sleep Research just released a report last week 7:30am (when Homeroom begins) or shortly thereafter. As you can tell from my comments above, I am sympathetic to the daily challenges of an early school start time and excited for next year’s push to 8:00am. At the same time, and in the meantime, I would ask families to make an effort to help their children get to school a bit before the start of Homeroom. It’s certainly of benefit to the student to start the day a bit more grounded with a few calm moments before the first class period begins.  Also, a challenging byproduct of this increase in late(r) drop-offs is a bit of vehicular chaos where many cars and children are jousting in and around the relatively small and narrow front entrance of our school. If you find yourself needing to drop a student off at the front, please make sure they only get out onto the sidewalk, rather than letting them weaving in and around oncoming traffic. I will always be the first to acknowledge that morning drop-off on our campus is tedious and time-consuming, and I also know that none of us wants an accident involving students to serve as a reminder to exercise extra patience and caution while coming to and from school.

Here’s some reminders and updates for students and families:

Our Yearbook advisor Mr. Lewis has ordered several extra copies of this year’s Yearbook

that will be available to purchase by students and families who may have forgotten to

order one during the original window.  Stay tuned for details of how to purchase.  


Thanks to those families who have submitted their field trip permission form and

payment for the end-of-year field trips to Kimball’s (7th grade) and Canobie Lake (8th

grade).  If you still need to send it in, please make an effort to do so this week.  Within

the next week we will begin reaching out to families for whom we do not have a record

of their plans for that day.  


If your child is not planning to be at school during the last day(s) of the school year, we

would appreciate it if you let us know so we can plan accordingly and account for

students during those days.  You can send an email to Katy Frey (kfrey@abschools.org)

and it would also be helpful if you let your child’s team teachers know as well.  


 Don’t forget about the Empty Bowls event on Monday, June 4 from 5:30pm to 7:00pm!   

This is an evening of art, singing and ice cream! Students will showcase their art and

singing talents and invite families to a charity ice cream social.  There will be an art show,

Select Choir performance, a silent auction, and of course the charity ice cream social.   

The money raised from this event will be donated to the Acton Community Supper and

Acton Food Pantry.  The ice cream social is $5 per person with a $20 family maximum.  

The rest of the event is free and we hope many of you are able to carve out some time

to join us.  


Here are two important follow-ups to last week’s information about the End-of-Year 8th Grade Dance/Celebration scheduled for the evening of Friday, June 22.  First, parents or guardians of 7th and 8th graders are needed for the following jobs: set up after school on June 22nd; clean up after the dance; food and drink donations.  In past years, 7th grade Parent/Guardian Volunteers "pay it forward" so that parents of 8th graders can focus on their own children's participation in this important event.  Please sign up if you can help us with setup/cleanup activities or with food donations by following this link to a Sign Up Genius:  8th Grade Celebration Help.  If you have questions, contact Carol Chytil at carol.chytil@gmail.com.

Secondly, I mentioned last week that there will be a cohort of students who will be eager to attend the event with a special someone (I can’t believe I just used that term), and have plans to go with a date.  What we’ve noticed in recent years is a temptation by our students to replicate the “promposal phenomenon” - where high school students have taken to planning elaborate and very public ways of asking someone to accompany them to the prom.  The Washington Post recently published a short history of the promposal given how entrenched its become in teen culture.  While we may have some RJ Grey students who are eager to deliver their own mini version of a promposal, any “asks” and invitations that are intended to be more public in nature (i.e. in the hallways and classrooms at RJ Grey) are not something we would encourage in a middle school setting, or at least while at school.


High school graduation is this Friday, June 1.  For those RJ Grey families who also have graduating seniors, a big congratulations to your graduate and to you as well.  Enjoy the moment (once you’ve actually found parking on campus for the ceremony). Fingers crossed for good weather.


Finally, we had our most recent edition of Poetry Friday at the end of last week, and it was a continuation of students from Ms. Bryan’s 7 Blue English class reading original poems that they wrote as part of their class’ most recent poetry unit. Kudos to Irene Tsitlenko, Karynna Yeh and Estella Harmon for sharing their poems with us last Friday.  


Have a great week, everyone.  


Cheers,

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Posted by dlawrence  On Jul 10, 2018 at 2:12 PM
  
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