Grey Matters, February 10, 2020; Volume 8, Number 24 

Hi Everyone, 

Sometimes it feels like the universe has a keen sense of what’s on your mind, or a challenging or vexing situation coming up in one’s life that may require a bit of guidance and reflection, and then steers you to stories and articles that offer a bit of perspective on it.  For some, it may be a tough financial decision, a question about a career choice, a difficult family dilemma, or maybe how best to approach a hard conversation. For me, the articles that have recently been falling into my lap are all in service of a helping me brace and prepare for a complicated event that Melisa and I will be managing in about two weeks. Specifically, hosting a birthday party for our daughter that involves no fewer than a dozen 12 and 13-year old girls sleeping over our house, and where sugary items will be plentiful.  Along with ordering a Kevlar vest, aviation ground support-quality headphones, and another bottle of Tylenol, we have begun some preliminary discussions with Addie about our goasl for her and her friends to have a lot of fun and how there will be some established parameters and expectations to ensure our house doesn’t burn to the ground. As we were working through a few preparations and focusing not as much on the whole purpose of the sleepover, this piece in the New York Times appeared, a summary of finding by Lydia Denworth who wrote a book about friendships.  Entitled, How Monkeys Taught Me to Appreciate Teen Sleepovers, I was most struck by the following excerpt and the links she made to her shift in how she views requests for sleepovers: 

“after spending the last few years researching and writing a book about the science of friendship, I am looking with fresh eyes at sleepovers, video games and many of the other ways children and teenagers like to spend their time together. I’ve realized that the critical thing is exactly that: that they spend time together. One of our chief jobs as parents is to encourage them to make and maintain strong friendships. It is one of the skills they will need most in life…. What I’m really doing is giving more weight to the friendship factor in my parental decisions. Having and being a good friend counts for as much or more than the many other achievements we push our kids toward in the classroom, on the basketball court or in the orchestra. Friendship is where kids build social skills — companionship, trust, loyalty, reciprocity and reconciliation — that they can only learn from peer relationships. These are muscles they need to strengthen for adulthood.” 

If this idea of how childhood friendships serve as an important protective and developmental feature in an adolescent’s life (which, granted, may sound obvious), here’s another piece by Lydia Denworth that just appeared in The Atlantic, entitled, “The Outsize Influence of Your Middle School Friends” that examines the power and impact of friendships, or the lack thereof, at this stage of a person’s life.  So in a few weeks when the decibel level at the Shen home pushes the limits of the sound barrier, I’ll be re-centering myself with the help of what I read in these articles.  My efforts to view sleepovers with additional enthusiasm notwithstanding, I am also thinking carefully about this 2018 piece in the Washington Post, “Why Cellphones and Sleepovers are Such a Bad Mix” that offers an important caution about how cell phones at sleepovers can be an invitation to unwanted and unintended social messiness given that “sleep deprivation can lead to diminished inhibition” and letting families and kids know ahead of time that cell phones will be collected and stored together at a certain point in the evening -- specific time currently being negotiated between daughter and yours truly.  

Here are a few updates and reminders for the next few weeks: 

February Vacation begins after school this Friday, February 14. Friday is a full-day of school.  If you already know that your child will be absent on that day, please be sure to let our Main Office know so we can manage the attendance process successfully.  You can email Katy Frey at [email protected].  

The Winter Trimester closes on Friday, March 6 and report cards will be emailed to families about two weeks after that.  Additionally, 8th grade students and their families will begin to discuss course registration and recommendations with teachers in early/mid-March.  I’ll be sure to provide additional details about that entire process when we return from February Vacation.

Don’t forget that the R.J. Grey Junior High yearbook is offering you the chance to send your love, pride and congratulations to the graduating 8th grade R.J. Grey student in your life.  You can purchase one of two advertisement formats to relay a message that your 8th grade student will cherish forever. Ads must be submitted by Wednesday, March 11. Please click the link for submissions guidelines and instructions. Please contact Marc Lewis ([email protected]) with any questions.  

I am pleased to share that this month’s R.J. Grey Artist of the Month is Sarthak Chitari from 8 Blue.  When Sarthak was asked why he wanted to be RJ Grey Artist of the Month, he replied: I want to be Artist of the Month because I want people to see my artwork. I want to not only get their feedback on how I can improve but if possible would like to inspire some non-artists to do art. I believe that you don’t need to have the skill to make art. You just need the vision and motivation to be able to produce art. Congratulations to Sarthak  and you can click here to view her art work (also on display in our school lobby). 

On Friday, we will enter the break by having our annual Blue & Gold Day assembly, which has traditionally served as a celebration of school spirit, and where we gather as a whole school (which only really happens a few times a year).  As usual we’ll be sure to post the best photos of the event on our Twitter feed, and it will make for a great start to the February Break.  An important reminder that there will be no homework assigned for vacation period.  We hope that everyone uses this time as an opportunity to disconnect from school and devote time to other interests.  Safe travels to those who are using the break as a chance to get away.  

Have a great week, a great February Break, everyone. 



Posted by ashen On 08 February, 2020 at 8:07 PM  

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