ABS Thursday Notes- February 7, 2019

Thursday Notes                           

Published for the Arts Based School Community                                                             February 7, 2019




How We Do It and Why

By Mary Siebert


“Film is incredibly democratic and accessible, it’s probably the best option of you actually want to change the world, and not just re-decorate it.” – Banksy


ABS 6th graders tackle some of the state-required world history social studies goals through film making. Some of the goals from the Standard Course of Study:


 “Understand the emergence, expansion and decline of civilizations and societies from the beginning of human existence to the Age of Exploration.”

“Understand the political, economic and/or social significance of historical events, issues, individuals and cultural groups. “

“Explain how innovation and/or technology transformed civilizations, societies and regions over time (e.g., agricultural technology, weaponry, transportation and communication).”

“Explain how invasions, conquests and migrations affected various civilizations, societies and regions (e.g., Mongol invasion, The Crusades, … and Alexander the Great).”


Really? This is a dramatically broad swath of time and events for 11-year-olds to digest in a few short months! But the prospect of performing in their own short films is a great motivator for research.

Each year, film kicks our behinds. It’s as if the art form is saying “Yeah…looks easy, doesn’t it? Well it’s NOT! It’s not easy, it’simpossible!” Famed for being the most collaborative of art forms, it’s also the most compartmentalized. Consider live theater, where everything culminates in everyone working together at once: actors, orchestra, lighting and sound technicians, costumers, directors, make-up artists, wig artists, all in a high state of stress and focus. In contrast, everyone in film works in their own little hollow, editing, editing, editing. The images are shot for only seconds at a time, and then again and again and again, and this is after many hours of waiting. And waiting. The writers – the initial inspiration – are kicked aside as the new creature develops. Outdoor light has to be just so. Wait for it. The sound must be just right. (Heaven forbid that a student shouts, a door slams, an a/c unit kicks on, or a train rolls by! Have you ever visited our school? Have you ever noticed the train tracks right next to the buildings?) And the technology! Oy! The cost! The required expertise! Its infallibility! It crashes. It runs out of batteries. It breaks and malfunctions and it doesn’t synch with the other technology.

Add to this the fact that we are working with kids. It’s the big day of the shoot and…they’re late. They’re sick. Their family decides to go to Disneyworld. Their grandma turns 100 and they must be there.

Over the years, we have experimented, and altered everything. The best constant is that the kids love it. Some testify, when they are big 8th Graders, that they appreciated this project most of all, because it inspired them to love research. Let’s admit that the final product is not festival-worthy. But for every thimble of film we produce, weeks of historic excavation and creative problem solving are expended. We make a point of incorporating 6th grade humor – it is unique and fleeting, and worthy of capturing. The final product is packed with facts, and to a 6th grader, it is hilarious.

This year, we produce satirical shorts about three iconic world leaders, set to musical theater tunes. Our characters: Eleanor of Aquitaine, Genghis Khan, and Mansa Musa, the Malian “King of Kings.” Led by the 6th grade teachers, the kids contribute ideas, facts, and rhymes. I do the lyric crafting, with their input. Ms. Allen helps them learn the original tunes and the newly crafted ones, and will select and coach soloists. All students will visit Bill Stevens at Ovation Sound studios and record the songs to a karaoke track, while reviewing science supporting the recording process. We will lip-synch to those pre-recoded tracks, vaulting over the troublesome, impossible job of recording on set.

Mr. Brown will work with teachers and students to lay out story boards based on the songs and catalogue ideas for visual story-telling. Ms. Gledhill has already begun working with students in art, drawing and painting world maps and models of yurts and other items which may be incorporated into shots. With parent volunteers, we will assemble costumes and props. Mr. Brown will partner with visiting artist and free-lance film maker Tyler Hicks, to shoot the films. We will rent the blasted technology and Mr. Hicks will edit, edit, edit. We’ll visit A/Perture Cinema to screen our premieres as a class, and finally we will show them to parents at ABS and share on Vimeo. Don’t ask when! It’s film! It changes, every single time! But…it’s worth it.


Volunteers Needed – Mark Your Calendars!

Volunteers are needed to load sets for the 5th grade production of Romeo & Juliet on the Border. We’ll load the truck from ABS to the theater (First Presbyterian Church, downtown) at 8:00 a.m. on Monday, February 25. Volunteers are again needed to strike the sets after the show, and move them back to ABS, at about 8:15 p.m. on Thursday, February 28. The job requires 30-60 minutes, depending on turnout, but each move will qualify for 2 hours of volunteer credit. Email Ms. Gledhill if you can help, at egledhill@artbasedschool.com


ABS Student Musician Excellence

Congratulations to ABS musicians Robert Severs (8th Grade Flute), Orion Sledge-Ricks (7th Grade Clarinet), and Kate Archambault (7th Grade Flute) for their acceptance into the Wachovia Winds Youth Wind Ensemble! These dedicated students will play regularly with accomplished high schoolers in a select orchestra.


Help Wanted

Our fabulous lunch monitor, Miss Connie has resigned her position as cafe’ monitor to devote more time to family. We are looking the perfect person to monitor our students while they’re eating lunch in the cafeteria.   This position requires patience, organization, humor, and reliability.  Please contact Stephanie at slefever@artsbasedschool.com if you are interested in applying.


Show some love…

this February and help the ABS Builders Club. Our club will filing backpacks full of supplies to send to Ecuadorian school children. A collection box will be located in the lobby of the 7th Street building from now until February 22nd. Thank you for your support!


Items needed:





Colored Pencils



Glue sticks


Keep Reading for Read to Feed!

Read to Feed will continue until February 22. It is an effort of Heifer International, which contributes livestock and training to families in need around the world and helps them build sustainable businesses. Each child who participates will ask family and friends to donate a certain amount for each book he or she reads (or, for young students, for each book read to them) from now until Feb. 22, and that amount will go toward buying cows, chicken, sheep, goats or llamas for a family. So READ, READ, READ!!! Here is a link to the letter and reading log.  https://docs.google.com/document/d/1NT65-M0WWOfOjEK5xejY9mcJeuLC2tOG4YxUGtQ0Ky8/edit




  • 8th grade baby/toddler photos for the “Guess Who?” page
  • January Jam
  • Peter and the Wolf (Rudd’s class)
  • Romeo & Juliet (please upload these ASAP after the performance)
  • LOTS OF CANDID NEEDED FOR 5th, 7th grades (and all grades)
  • I have zero pics of – Band and chorus, K Kids/Builders Club candids and officers



Order your 2018-19 yearbook –  STRAWBRIDGE.NET/PICTURES AND YEARBOOKS. The ABS online code is 106312.



Around Town:


UNION: A Musical – Sign Up to Attend Streaming at First Presbyterian Church

This new musical, written by Gregory Thompson and Amish Baraka, is about the sanitation workers’ strike in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1968 and how the local community and others, including Martin Luther King Jr. responded, fighting toward humane working conditions and forming a “more perfect union.”  The musical and forum provide opportunities to bring individuals and churches in our city together to partner with existing efforts continuing to address the problem of racial reconciliation and justice in our community.  They are out of tickets for the main showing of Union at the Stevens Center, BUT they do have an opportunity to allow 900 community members to attend a Live Streaming of the Musical at the same time, Friday, February 8th at 8pm at First Presbyterian Church (300 N Cherry St, Winston-Salem, NC 27101).

The Live Streaming will be followed by a Live “Talk Back” Question and Answer session at First Pres – so attendees of the live stream will have the best seats in the house for that.

If you would like to attend please fill out one form for each individual attending. This Streaming is limited to the first 900 individuals to sign up. https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSchoMBJcc0PAKjcskhNzgnpX-om4x_wdSlbDF-zdrh75lvS6w/viewform