ABS Thursday Notes- February 20, 2020

Thursday Notes                       

Published for the Arts Based School Community                         February 20, 2020



How We Do It and Why

By Mary Siebert


“All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players.” – William Shakespeare, from As You Like It


Romeo & Juliet on the Border is the culmination of many varied elements of study, for fifth grade. Students studied America’s Reconstruction via songs of the western cattle drive era of the late 1800s. Cowboy poetry, maps of cattle trails and biomes of the west, paintings and photos from the era, cattle trade economics, changing roles of women, influences of technology, and recognition of the mixed ethnic demographic of the original cowboys were all studied in preparation. Much of it was incorporated into the ABS original script adaptation.


This is the show’s tenth year at ABS. In that first year, period folk songs and dances from America’s west and Northern Mexico were carefully researched with the help of the Hispanic Arts Initiative, who also helped design and build the vivid Mexican costumes. We continue to use those materials and ideas. The students’ “Dancing Classrooms” study at the beginning of the year made it easier for Jan Adams to choreograph complex partner dances.


Shakespearean English was studied, its iambic pentameter, its clever names and insults and hidden rhymes. It was translated first into modern vernacular, and then into turn-of-the-century cowboy phraseology.  The original Shakespeare is preserved in heightened moments of emotion.


The timeless story elements, its clashing cultures, fear and intolerance of strangers, and the challenges of resolving differences and sustaining peace were recognized as immediate and current, even in a fifth-grade classroom.


ABS counselor Amanda Sullivan taught a reflective lesson, in which students considered how the ending of the story would have changed, if Romeo had called 9-1-1. What if he had used strategies for coping with depression or discouragement, such as seeking help from a grown-up or allowing time to pass before making a rash decision?


Heidi McIver, who directs the show, also choreographed stage combat, while teaching students that violence in theater is just the opposite of real violence: safety is the number one concern. You always let your opponent know when you’re coming. You position yourself to prevent an actual strike. The “victim” is always in control, only giving the appearance of a struggle. Students learn never to perform these moves out of class, especially not in front of younger children who might then try it themselves. In this way, we learn about the inner workings of the power of media.


Every student is in the show and, regardless of the size of the role, every student receives the above lessons and many more. The wonder of this kind of instruction is that once you begin to discover the relativity of art to life, a huge constellation of connection reveals itself, and the possibilities are endless. All the world’s a stage.


Romeo & Juliet on the Border will be performed next week: Thursday, February 27 at 7:00 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Worship Center theater, at 200 N. Cherry Street. Admission is free, and a free-will offering will be taken.


Volunteers Needed to load the Romeo & Juliet sets into the truck next Monday morning, February 24, at 8:00 a.m. If you are able to follow us to the theater (1 mile away) to unload the sets there, that’s ideal. Volunteers are also needed to strike the set and load it into the truck after the show, on Thursday, February 27 at 8:15, then meet at ABS to load the pieces into the basement. We usually finish before 9:00 p.m. 



Last year we sold out of yearbooks AND sold out of our reprint! Make sure you have your copy by ordering today! Orders can be placed by visiting the Strawbridge website at http://www.strawbridge.net/ and clicking the red “Order Pictures and Yearbooks” button at the top of the page. The price is $22 and our school code is YB106312.


Summer Camp registration is now OPEN to ABS families. Be sure to visit our website to register your child while spaces are still available.


Conference Time is Coming

Soon your child’s teacher will be setting up conferences to discuss your child’s progress.  Students attending the Arts Based School are assessed using a portfolio system in place of the traditional report card.  The portfolio is designed to illustrate a student’s academic growth and successes as well as guide the teacher in planning appropriate instruction.  Teachers at ABS do not issue letter grades. Teachers use observation, interviews, analysis of student work and performance tasks to assess student understanding.  Examples of student work, as well as other objective standards of assessments are incorporated into the student’s portfolio to give an enhanced portrait of the student’s progress.  These portfolios will be discussed and presented to parents during the Student-Teacher-Parent conferences. Please be sure you schedule and attend your conference so that you can support your child’s learning. 

Conference Days- March 6- Early Dismissal,

                     K-4 Dismiss at 11:45

                     5-8 Dismiss at 12 noon

                       March 9 No School


Last Week for Read to Feed!

   Are we buying a heifer? A water buffalo? Two goats? It’s up to you! We only have one more week to Read to Feed, getting sponsors to support us for the books we read in order to raise money for sustainable family businesses in some of the poorest countries in the world. For more information, please read the information below. Money is due February 28, and checks should be made out to Heifer International. Read to Feed letter



What is Community Creates?


This year marks the last year of The Arts Based School’s Community Creates.  While many of you have attended in years past, there are lots of folks in the ABS Community that still aren’t quite sure what this event is all about.  Is it a party? Is it a fundraiser? Is everyone invited? Yes, yes and YES!


Community Creates is a fabulous adult only party.  For one evening, our ABS Middle School building and courtyard are transformed into a chic, hip art gallery full of unique artwork created for this event.  Local artists you love, and new ones you don’t know yet, come together to provide pieces for our 100 for $100 drawing, silent auction and live auction. Dinner is provided by our friends at The Porch & Alma Mexicana.  It’s an evening you don’t want to miss!


Community Creates is a vital fundraiser for ABS.  ABS deeply arts-based, experiential learning includes visits and residences from highly accomplished professionals in visual, performing and literary arts (think Mr. Bill, Mr. Bob, Diana Greene & Thao Nguyen just to name a few).  Funds raised from Community Creates help us pay for this artists-in-residence program.  The relationships between our students and these local artists inspire and instruct us, while helping create and solidify meaningful bonds within the community.


Everyone is invited to Community Creates!  Community Creates draws a mix of ABS parents, staff, Board members, artists and many people throughout the community that attend for the chance to walk away with some fantastic artwork, or at the very least, have a fabulous evening out!  Tickets are $50 in advance and $60 at the door and will be available for purchase very soon – but go ahead and save the date – Saturday, May 2nd from 7pm–11pm!


Interested in getting involved?  Great!  There are several ways to get involved in the action!

  • Become a sponsor– A variety of sponsorship levels are available.  Reach out to Ellen Coble (ecoble@artsbasedschool.com) if you are interested in finding out more.    It’s a great way to get exposure to a broad audience.
  • Submit artwork– Interested in sharing your artistic skills?  Contact Paige Raper (praper@artsbasedschool.com) for more information on submitting a piece.
  • Volunteer– It takes a village!  Contact Robin Hollis (rhollis@artsbasedschool.com) if you’d like to volunteer.

Stay tuned for more information in the coming weeks – we hope to see YOU on Saturday, May 2nd at Community Creates!


Inclement Weather

In the event of inclement weather, ABS will announce school closings on local TV 

channels, under “The Arts Based School”.  This information will also be posted on the ABS website (www.artsbasedschool.com).