Thursday Notes – August 27, 2015

How We Do It and Why

By Mary Siebert

One of the many benefits of responding to students’ desires to learn through the arts is our flexibility and adventurousness. Our middle school parents have supported us as we experiment with an array of ideas to engage, stimulate, challenge, and unite our older kids. Our foray last year into elegant documentary film-making with Diana Greene and Peter Wilbur has caught the attention of the River Run Film Festival, SECCA, and the UNCSA film-making faculty, as well as film-making organizations on the opposite side of the country. It was hard work, the real thing. If kids can catch the wave of fascination in researching real stories and transforming interviews and on-location visits into quality film making, they have the opportunity to be recognized nation-wide as a group of students who are willing to do the heavy lifting that real documentary film requires. It’s not about “show-boating,” it’s about throwing light on a current reality in our community, and using an art form to become compassionate listeners and story-tellers. We are excited to see what this year’s 8th graders will do with January’s film- making challenge in a resident artistry with Diana Greene, who serves as a board member of RiverRun, and Peter Wilbur, who co-produces the project, teaching, shooting, and editing. ABS’ developing interest in film has resulted in occasional opportunities for our students to perform in student films at UNCSA; a great side benefit of artistry taken seriously.

This year we will also launch the 7th Street’s answer to “Friday Sing” (although we still get together once or twice a year to sing K-8 in the courtyard) for a monthly “Café Cabaret” for 5th – 8th graders only, featuring lunchtime performances by local artists. Performances will take place in the courtyard when the weather is fine, and in the dance/drama studio when it’s not. Highlights may include an African Drumming Ensemble with dancers, local indie rock bands, classical chamber musicians, hip hop dance performers, a jazz band, choral music, and more. During the second half of the year, ABS 5th – 8th grade students who want to perform for Café Cabaret will audition and rehearse with Ms. Cooper to prepare a concert-ready act. An 8th grade musical, 7th grade’s Brundibár, a 6th grade mosaic project with Jan Detter and UNCSA, as well as Romeo & Juliet are also in the works.  Stay tuned for more new developments in our fabulous, ultra-cool middle school!

Great Night Out

Last night’s delightful fundraising dinner at Five Points Restaurant was a great mix of all branches of the ABS community. We enjoyed delicious food and wine with the restaurant donating 15% of proceeds to the school. Staff, board members, parents, students, and friends of the school were in cheerful attendance. Our board chair, Heather Smith and, Parent Council co-Chair Lindsay Deibler, were radiant and fun as “Celebrity Chefs” in their chic black chef’s toques, making the rounds to charm and nurture the energy. Thanks to Five Points and our celebrity chefs for a great evening and some extra support, and thanks to everyone who turned out.

Food Allergies at ABS

You’ve all read the headlines and seen the news stories: food allergies are a growing concern in schools across America. Millions of children – children who are perfectly healthy and normal in every other way – must watch every single bite they eat, or risk suffering a severe or even life threatening reaction. In fact, food allergies claim over 200 lives and are responsible for over 30,000 emergency room visits each year. A major health issue such as this one needs to be taken very seriously, and it has always been the policy of this school to make the safety and well-being of our students our top priority.  If a student in your child’s class has a life threatening food allergy you should have received this information in a letter.  We ask that you pay careful attention to the food restriction and accommodations that the school has put in place to keep these students safe.  We work closely with parents of these students to tailor the requirements based on the student’s 504 or medical plan.   For some students, the allergy is with ingestion only but others can suffer symptoms from contact or airborne allergens.  If you have any questions or concerns about food allergies or packing your own child’s safe lunch, please contact your classroom teacher.


Welcome to our new speech teacher, Lauren Minta.  She will be working with our 3rd-8th graders this year.  Mrs. Carter will also be working with our speech students in K-2.   Lauren Minta is a graduate from East Carolina University, where she received her B.S. degree in Speech and Hearing Sciences, and M.S. degree in Speech-Language Pathology. She has experience in a variety of settings working with children with articulation disorders, phonological disorders, auditory processing disorders, Childhood Apraxia of Speech, fluency disorders, and various language disorders. Lauren is licensed by the board of North Carolina and holds her Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. She enjoys traveling, cooking, gardening, sewing, and spending time with her family.

Kindergarten Speech Screening

This is the time of year when ABS begins screening kindergarten students for any speech or language difficulties.  Ms. Jennifer Carter, our speech pathologist, will visit each kindergarten classroom to have a short conversation with each student.  If further testing is required, the parents will be notified.  If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Mrs. Carter at

Kids and Builders Club

Does your child want to make a difference in our school, our community and our world?

3rd graders through 5th graders are invited to join the K-Kids program while 6th-8th graders are invited to join the Builders Club program.  Both are service organizations sponsored by Kiwanis International.  Meetings for K-Kids will take place in the dance studio in MLK and Builders Club meetings will take place in Ms. Tarmey’s classroom on Friday mornings from 7:45 to 8:15 each week beginning September 4.   See the letter in this week’s Thursday packets.

Beginning of Grade Test

The State Board of Education has implemented a standardized test required for all third graders in North Carolina.  Third grade students will take the Beginning of Grade (BOG) test in reading.  A student’s BOG score will be used as baseline data to measure growth and also as a screening tool to identify those students who will need remediation to pass the End of Grade test.  The NC Read to Achieve initiative requires retention for students who do not pass the Reading EOG at third grade.  The test has 42 questions and takes approximately 90 minutes to complete.  It will be administered on September 9.    Testing accommodations will be provided for students with Individualized Education Plans (IEP).  Make-up tests will be required for any student that is absent from the regular administration of the test.

Parking Lot Pointers continued…

-For morning drop off near MLK building, please pull all the way forward before letting your child out of the car.   This allows us to unload five cars at a time.  Also, please stay in the lane, not the stripped zone.  This avoids having your car door hit someone on the sidewalk.  Do not pass anyone in the line.  Ideally, students should unload from the passenger side and move quickly to the sidewalk.  If your child must exit from the driver’s side, be sure to have them walk in front of your car toward the sidewalk.

-Please do not drop off students on 7th street.

-If you park on Chestnut or park in the Goler lot to walk you child over, please walk your child down the sidewalk to the cross guard to cross over 7th street.  This helps us keep the traffic flowing safely.

-Please turn right out of the 7th St parking lot especially in the morning to keep the line moving and avoid traffic jams on 7th Street.  Sometimes this will not be possible because of a passing train.

-Thanks again to the amazing volunteers who have helped each morning with traffic.

ABS Family/Student Directory

To be sure we have accurate contact information for the ABS family/student directory, each family should have received a confirmation email to verify the information that will be printed in the directory.  Families that do not want to be published in the ABS directory should email Principal Hollis at  before August 31.  If you did not receive a confirmation email, please email Principal Hollis.

Assistant Principal Raffle

Don’t forget to purchase your $1 raffle tickets for your child’s chance to be next month’s Assistant Principal!  Tickets are available in both front offices. The raffle will be drawn at Friday Sing on September 4th. Proceeds from the raffle benefit the Parent Council Hospitality Fund.

1st Parent Council Meeting – Sep. 11th

Please submit topics for the agenda for the first Parent Council meeting of the school year. The meeting will last about an hour and little siblings are welcome.  Questions?  Contact PC Co-Chairs Michelle Hopkins Lawrence ( and Lindsay Deibler (

Call for volunteers to help with morning drop-off

If you are able to help direct traffic at school in the morning to make the drop-off procedure run more smoothly, please contact Heather Candelora ( We need help on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This is a great way to meet your volunteer commitment to the school in short increments.

Don’t Forget Your Instrument!

Band is fun and loud, a place to make mistakes and to bond over successes. It’s embarrassing and disappointing for our students if they show up for band without an instrument.  That’s no way to start the year, so please help your child remember to bring that instrument on band days! Today some kids without instruments brainstormed ways to remember their instrument: block your way out of bed with your case. Put your lunch on top of your case right near the door. Write a sign and stick it to the mirror where you brush your teeth the night before. We want to have a ROCKING band this year, so please help you kids remember!

Here’s a reminder of that schedule: 6th, 7th, and 8th  grade band is Monday and Wednesday. 5th is as follows: Frazier: Monday and Tuesday. Meeks: Tuesday and Friday. Wagner:Wednesday and Friday. Encourage your student to practice! Only 10 minutes daily helps make band more fun.

Activity Fee

Each family is asked to pay $30.00 per year per child to help cover the costs of our extensive curriculum enhancement activities, including field trips and art trips.  Fees are payable at the start of the year and may be paid for the full year or in smaller increments, if needed.  Financial assistance is available to those families with demonstrated need per the approval of the principal.  Checks should be made out to The Arts Based School and turned into Ms. Wise in the front office or at Back to School night.  Also payable online at

Around Town…

Twin City Stage’s Youth Series announces auditions for The Box Car Children, directed by our own Nick Zayas. Auditions are: Monday September 21st at 7:00pm at Twin City Stage in the rehearsal hall. Performances: November 6-8 at Hanes Brands Theatre.Roles available:2 girls (ages 9-14), 2 boys (ages 6-15), 2 men (ages 25-50+) and 2 women (ages 20-35). All ages are encouraged to audition. Auditions will consist primarily of reading from the script. Character-appropriate monologues will be welcomed, but not required.

Cub Scouts Bike Rodeo-Sunday, Aug 30 2-4pm at Whitaker Elementary.  Bring your bike and helmet, Eat ice cream and play, and learn about cub scouts.  Sponsored by Pack 910 St. Paul’s.