Grey Matters, December 2, 2019; Volume 8, Number 15  

Hi Everyone, 

I hope you all had a nice Thanksgiving Break. Our family’s plans were pretty low key with family who are close by so driving wasn’t too bad over the last few days.  In between a very filling meal and dessert on Thursday, a few of us played the updated version of the board game Life, where Melisa and I discovered that in the board game version of your life, you actually get rewarded with money when you have more children.  While we have always felt that having children has enriched our lives, our actual experiences with kids and the size of our bank account has been a bit different than what the board game has offered.  Whether it was in the form of a board game, or a different activity, or maybe just some rest and relaxation, I hope everyone is returning to work and school a bit more refreshed and ready for December.  Based on current weather reports, our return to school tomorrow (Monday) may be affected and/or delayed - and Tuesday’s up in the air too. An important and friendly reminder that any changes in the school schedule, such as a delayed start or a snow day, will be communicated via an automated phone call to home and/or cell phones (and also posted on news sites).  

Here’s a few updates for everyone as we prepare for the next few weeks of school before the Winter Break.  

A friendly reminder that our first round of Parent-Teacher conferences are scheduled for Thursday, December 12.  Families who requested conferences have received an email confirmation of their conference schedule.  Those who requested a January conference time may or may not have heard yet from our Office, thanks for your patience as we first finalize conference times for December 12 and December 17.  A reminder to all families that for the December 12 and December 17 conferences, all students will be dismissed early at 11:10am.  The normal bus routes will run at that time and available to students.  Please keep these dates in mind when considering after school plans for your student(s).  

Every year, the PTSO organizes a staff appreciation luncheon that is held during the second set of parent-teacher conferences (which is on December 17).  Many thanks to the PTSO organizers and the volunteers who contribute to this event with food, drink and supply donations, as well as volunteering to staff the event. Stay tuned for more details and messaging from the PTSO.  

Starting this week thru December 13, RJ Grey will be collecting toys this holiday season to donate to local families.  Our teachers and students have coordinated this Toy Drive as an annual holiday effort, and it’s always been a wonderful opportunity to offer some holiday cheer to children in and around our community.  Toys must be new, unused (and unopened) and may be dropped off in the collection box in the main lobby. All the toys will be donated to families in Acton, Boxborough, and other surrounding towns.  If you have any questions, you can email Gabrielle Berberian at [email protected].  

James and the Giant Peach is here! Five performances are scheduled for Thursday, December 5 (7pm), Friday, December 6 (7pm), Saturday, December 7 (2pm and 7pm), and Sunday, December 8 (2pm).  Tickets are $15 and are now available in the Junior High Main Office, and will also be sold at the door prior to each performance.  ABSAF holders are entitled to two free tickets and must pick up their tickets from the Main Office prior to the performance date.  This is always a great family-friendly event and we hope to see many A-B families there.  

Tryouts for our Winter Sports get under way this week.  Please review the Athletics Website for information and to review the tryout schedule for each program.  Please remember that the process for requesting a waiver for the athletics fee should be submitted to the Athletic Director’s office.  Please contact Assistant Principal David Lawrence ([email protected]) with any questions.  

Before everyone went their separate ways last week, we held our traditional Thanksgiving assembly, which is always the first all-school gathering of the year.  As usual, this assembly featured and was led by our students, starting with our Student Council officers (Ryan Leo, William Wu, Josie Hanlon, Advikar Ananthkumar, and Miller Lillie).  Along with great performances (as usual) by students in our Band, Chorus and Strings programs, our assembly also featured speeches by two students who submitted entries for this year’s speech competition.  Many thanks to Seth Rosenman and Vaishnavi Murthy for their heartfelt words and reflections.  

Fall Trimester report cards will be emailed to parents and guardians at the end of this week. Any email address that is listed in a student’s Emergency Card as belonging to a parent or guardian will receive a copy of the report card. Once you have time to view the report card, please use this as an opportunity to have a conversation with your child(ren).  For subjects where they experienced some success, what did they think was an important factor, and how can they build on that momentum?  For subjects where they might be hoping to improve, what goals or strategies might be worth trying over the next few months? Asking students to self-assess and giving them a supportive venue to be honest with themselves is a critical first step to any adjustments that they (or you) might hope they make moving forward.  

I would imagine that amongst our student population, there may be a few whose report cards show some signs of difficulty in a few subjects.  They aren’t the first (nor will they be the last) middle schoolers whose report cards may result in a bit of angst and distress for themselves and their parents. What has become to me an important tradition during my time as Principal is where I confess to RJ Grey families about my own sordid middle school academic career, specifically the minor disaster that was my 7th grade winter report card, issued in 1989 by the Andover Public Schools. Like other RJ Grey parents before you, you can view a photo of said report card by clicking here. Please note that teachers’ names, and my parents’ home address, have been blurred to protect the innocent.  If you are tempted but unsure of whether to show my report card to your child, shed yourself of any reluctance you might have and go right ahead.  I’ve enjoyed many of the stories that parents have sent to me about the conversations they had with their children about their Principal’s report card. One family has my report card on their refrigerator - hopefully not still 

On the day that my 7th grade report card was distributed, I spent a good hour devising an ingenious plan to save myself from what I expected to be a painful conversation with my parents.  My brilliant idea? I folded up my report card, placed it in my pants pocket, and then purposely ran those pants through the washing machine - twice. I convinced myself (truly) that a spin cycle or two would actually make the D+ I earned in Math fade a bit and that I could convince my mother that the unclear and fuzzy marking was a B+.  Shockingly, the plan didn’t work - I probably should have used hot water instead of cold. On behalf of your kids, and the thirteen-year old version of me, please keep in mind that if you find yourself having a bewildering conversation about their report cards, they are not purposely trying to make you miserable and turn prematurely gray/bald.  The prefrontal cortex of thirteen and fourteen-year old brains is still developing, and this will often result in utterly nonsensical explanations and excuses.  This too shall pass, eventually. 

For those whose kids may be coming home with “that other” report card that might look a bit like mine, when you have a conversation with your child about it, please remind yourself of what we all already know: that patience and encouragement (and some mercy) often go a long way in these situations. If you hope to have a productive conversation with them, they need to be convinced that your motivation for talking is not just rooted in judgment, but also driven by curiosity and a sincere interest in expressing empathy and support.  

Middle school is a time when a dozen things are happening and changing at the same time - to their brains, their bodies, how they relate to peers and adults, and they’re trying on different personalities to see what feels right.  With all this change, sometimes the academic part doesn’t go quite as planned and they may not be prepared to identify the reasons why. A less-than-stellar middle school report card is not usually a preview of what your son or daughter will be like when they are adults (or even as high school students), nor is it really structured to offer insight about their continued development as kind, thoughtful, and creative individuals.  We (parents and educators) should definitely continue to have healthy academic goals and aspirations for all of our kids, and let’s remind ourselves that getting there can sometimes be a function of time and might also include, and indeed benefit from, a few detours and potholes along the way.  

Three weeks until the Winter Break!

Have a great week, everyone. 



Posted by ashen On 01 December, 2019 at 6:34 AM  

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