Grey Matters, January 1, 2020 

Hi Everyone, 

Welcome back from Winter Break, and welcome to 2020 and another decade and perhaps one where, dare I suggest it, our kids will have to experience a sporting world where we can’t assume total domination by the local professional football franchise?  I’m not telling you what I think is going to happen, just making an innocent observation. Our family made a quick trip over the break to New York City where we saw the Broadway version of the Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief story, as well as having the good fortune of seeing Freestyle Love Supreme, which I’m not sure how best to accurately describe. It’s a show co-created by Lin Manuel Miranda of Hamilton fame that features audience participation and improvisation by the performers primarily in the form of hip hop and a whole mish-mosh of other musical and performance techniques. For a better explanation, you can read the New York Times’ story about it here.  Besides this quick trip to New York City, our family took advantage of this somewhat longer Winter Break and enjoyed a series of smaller moments and activities at home, where both Melisa and I found opportunities to connect and spend time with our kids (full disclosure: this was often in between, around, and at times in the perpetual presence of technology).  The photo to the right captures one brief moment where Addie and I bonded (I think I can use that word for this) by way of a brief boxing match that took place in our kitchen with some mock boxing gloves our kids received as a gift that I am pretty sure was a nod to their tendency to wrestle and tackle each other at various moments of the day. While I am not trying to suggest that choreographed moments of physical jousting with your child is the optimal strategy for connecting with your kids, it was one in a series of interactions that allowed Melisa and I to engage playfully with our kids this break.  If you’re leaning towards recommendations of a different kind for how to connect and communicate with your children more or differently this coming year, here is a recent article in the New York Times that offers a collection of pieces from this past year that provide a few different angles and approaches to this subject - and likely don’t involve any risk of an accidental black eyes (I think). 

An important note about next week’s two sets of parent/guardian-teacher conferences that is the result of an earlier snow day. Our set of conferences that were originally slated for December 17 is now scheduled for the afternoon of Thursday, January 9, with the same times that were originally planned for December 17. This may be a little confusing because we already had (and still have) a set of evening conferences scheduled for that same day, from 5pm to 8pm.  Those evening conferences are still on for that date and time. Because of this, I want to provide a reminder of what this means for our school schedule on Thursday and Friday.  

  1. Thursday, January 9 is now an early release day for students, where they are dismissed at 11:10am.  Parent-teacher conferences re-scheduled from December 17 will then begin shortly thereafter.  

  2. That evening of January 9, the originally-scheduled evening conferences will take place from 5pm to 8pm.  That means teachers will have a brief respite in between where we’ll be sure to feed them and give them a bit of a break!

  3. The following day, Friday, January 10, is an early release day for all students and staff.  School will be from 8:00am to 11:10am, and buses will be available for their “regular routes.”  

Here’s additional updates and reminders for the first few weeks of January, and then a bit of important information about our annual Signs of Suicide (SOS) program for 7th grade students.  

There is no school for all Acton-Boxborough students on Monday, January 20 for the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.  

The RJG Winter Band Concert is scheduled for the evening of Wednesday, January 15, and the Winter Chorus and String Ensemble Concert is scheduled for the evening of Wednesday, January 22.  Both events begin at 7pm and taking place in the RJ Grey auditorium.  

The very popular Ski and Board Club has its first session next Tuesday, January 7.  Please remember that ski and board gear can not be brought on AB buses in the morning, and that means on Tuesdays Ski and Board Club members are dropped off in the morning with quite a bit of gear.  For those of you planning to drop off kids and gear in the lower parking lot, it would be immensely helpful if the gear was organized in a way that supported a speedy drop-off.  The best case scenario is if you have those ski bags that package everything up all nice and are easy to carry. I’ll do my best to help kids with getting gear out of the trunk, and anything that you can do in advance would be much appreciated.  There are also some families who choose to drop off their child’s ski/boarding gear later in the day and bring it to the auditorium where it is stored.  

We had our latest round of Everyday Leaders take place right before Winter Break. It was great to spend some time with a number of our students and see how the year is going, and to also get some of their initial feedback on different parts of the RJ Grey experience.  Congratulations to this group of Everyday Leaders: Owen Wang - 7 Blue; Ella Nannene - 7 Gold; Jacob Tucker - 7 Green; Jonnie Lin - 7 Red; Sebastian Grad - 8 Blue; Oliver Aubain - 8 Gold; Sarah Fernandes - 8 Green; Sam Keller - 8 Red; Matthew Smarlarz - 7 Red; Greg Michaelidis - 8 Red; Sebastien Stouch - 8 Blue. 

I want to provide families with another preview of a letter that families of 7th grade students will be receiving this week by email as well as US Postal Mail, that discusses our school’s implementation of the Signs of Suicide (SOS) lesson and mental health screening tool.  Before the Winter Break, I provided an overview of our annual Signs of Suicide lesson and the Brief Screening for Adolescent Depression to students in 7th and 9th grade. The Signs of Suicide Prevention Program is a universal program for middle and high school students that has proven effective in helping students who are concerned about themselves or a friend.  It is the only school-based suicide-prevention curriculum listed by the Substance Abuse and Medical Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) in its National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices that addresses suicide risk and depression.  At RJ Grey, the program is scheduled this year to take place in 7th grade team classes during the week of January 20 and January 27, with two teams scheduled per week.  For parents and guardians who would like to preview the Signs of Suicide lesson and the video used during the lesson, we are hosting an information session on Tuesday, January 7 at 6pm in the Junior High Library.  Joining us that evening will be a program coordinator from the Riverside Trauma Center.  At that session we typically provide an overview of the program and answer questions that parents/guardians might have. Families of 7th grade students will be receiving an email letter tomorrow (Wednesday) about the SOS lesson and mental health screening tool, along with a consent form that we need parents and guardians to return by Friday, January 10th.  Families will also receive a copy of the letter via US Postal Mail on Thursday or Friday.  The consent form allows you to select your child’s level of participation in the program. 

Have a great week, everyone.  Welcome back.  



Posted by ashen On 01 January, 2020 at 11:30 AM  

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