ABS Thursday Notes- January 4, 2018

Thursday Notes                           

Published for the Arts Based School Community                                                               January 4, 2018



How We Do It and Why

By Mary Siebert


“Art is long, life is short.”  – Hippocrates


Ten years ago, I was invited to speak at a Rotary Club lunch, on the topic of The Arts Based School. I slung my guitar over my shoulder and headed out for something of a routine engagement. Little did I suspect that the school was about to make a treasured friend.

The guitar was included because I often sing songs from our curriculum, combined with stories and images, to demonstrate arts integration. I faced a room of professional people, mostly men, who were taking an hour to connect with one another and consider how to support their community. I kept my presentation light-hearted, and found them ready to laugh. So, I pulled up my guitar and sang “The Pig Snot Song.”

I wrote these lyrics when the teachers requested something that would encourage kids to memorize volume measurements: 4 cups=1 quart. 4 quarts=1 gallon. Pints, ounces, etc. The idea of pig snot was inspired by that old camp favorite; “Great big globs of greasy grimy gopher guts…” (note the alliteration there…) because kids love things that are gross. Captain Underpants, the Goosebumps series, the Monsterjuice series (especially Fear the Barfitron!) are all witness to the appeal of gross-out literature. Laughter is a great accompaniment to what might otherwise be very dry learning.

So, I warned my audience to finish their last swallow before I sang. I explained that, when premiering this song for the children, I announced to the children that I had an uncle who owned a pig farm. (Fiction.) I said that he and some scientists had made this amazing discovery: A person can get all the nutrition they need for a whole day, by drinking just one cup of… pig snot! (HUGE EWWWWWWW from the children.) Then, I poured some gloppy green and brown goop (loose Jello,) from a pitcher into a glass measuring cup, measuring precisely one cup. (EWWWWW!) I exclaimed that it really wasn’t that bad. Poured a sample for Mr. Wilbur and some for myself, and we clinked glasses, and drank. (EVEN BIGGER EWWWWW!) And then we performed the song:


Here’s a cup of pig snot, wanna have a snort?

If you swallow four of them, you will drink a quart.

If you swallow four quarts, you will drink a lot.

Cause four quarts is a gallon of delicious piggy snot!


There are additional verses, along the same lines. This inspired a rash of intensive memorization on the part of the kids, who love nothing more than a teacher being silly combined with the opportunity to gross each other (and their parents) out. It is most effectively performed with students standing in a formal row, hands folded as if it’s a terribly serious event.

The Rotary Club found this all extremely entertaining, and of course I balanced the story out with more serious material and some statistics. But afterward, a cheerful gentleman approached me and introduced himself. He was Alex Ewing, Chancellor of UNCSA. Alex was so delighted, specifically by The Pig Snot Song, combined with the serious nature of our mission, that he volunteered immediately to help the school. He wanted to be a part of it, and he was, for the rest of his life.

Alex served on the board for many years, He attended dozens of student performances with his wife, Sheila. He showed up at meetings, retreats, and parties. He walked the hallways, amazed by the energetic teachers, the happy children, the abundance of art and creativity bursting from the rooms and plastered on the walls.

Two years ago, he asked how much money we would need, to convert the warehouse space into a more functional theater. He donated $300,000 to make that conversion possible. When he attended the first Friday Sing in the newly remodeled theater, 300 children cheered and shouted for him. They showered him with illustrated thank-you notes.

This year, when Alex’s health began to flag, I visited with him several times, delivering “Get Well Soon!” cards from children, and enjoying the stories of his amazing life. Founder of the Joffrey Ballet in New York, director of American Ballet Theatre (which was founded by his mother, Lucia Chase, a prima ballerina,) Alex went on to become a nationally recognized cattle breeder (you read that right!) before moving to Winston-Salem to be chancellor of UNCSA. His stories were always brimming with astonishment at his own good fortune and great adventures.

Alex reminded me, often, that The Pig Snot Song was the thing that drew him to ABS. He passed away on December 27, at the age of 86. When principal Robin Hollis and I visited him in the hospital, I brought along my guitar and sang a few quiet songs for him. I wish I’d thought to sing him that silly song too.


Warm Welcome from the Jazz Dads

We were honored and delighted again this year to host the “Jazz Dads” before school on the last two days before winter break. Drummer and ABS dad Bill Poole created this ABS tradition of gathering a jazz combo to welcome our students with holiday music as they enter both buildings in the morning. Other ABS dads who joined in were Kyle Webster (sax), John Ray (bass) and Joe Pecoraro (guitar,) along with pianist Jefferson Dalby. Thanks, Jazz Dads!


Flu Season

As you know, flu can be easily spread from person to person.  We are asking for your help in reducing the spread of flu at ABS.  The symptoms for the seasonal flu and H1N1 are the same: fever of 100 degrees or more, cough, sore throat, runny nose, body aches, headache, and feeling very tired.  Students with these symptoms will be sent home.

You can help us by taking these simple steps:

  • Teach children to wash their hands often.
  • Teach your children not to share food or drink.
  • Teach children to cough or sneeze into their elbows to avoid spreading germs.
  • Keep sick children home.

Get the flu vaccine for you and your children.


MAP Testing in January

Third through eighth grade students will complete the second round of MAP testing in January.  After the testing is complete, parents will receive an updated score report showing the progress your student has made this year.


High School Options

Jan. 1-Jan. 22 families may complete online applications for the magnet school program of their choice at the WSFC magnet school website http://wsfcs.k12.nc.us/Page/104910

Activity Fee Due

Each family is asked to pay $15.00 per semester per child to help cover the costs of our extensive curriculum enhancement activities.  Fees are due at the start of each semester.  Second semester activity fees are due now.  Please make checks payable to ABS and turn into Ms. Wise in the front office.


Student Intent for 2018-19 School Year

As we prepare for next year’s enrollment lottery (2018-19), it is important to know how many spaces are available in each grade.  As a current student, your child has priority placement and no additional action is required.   If your child is not returning to ABS for the 2018-19 school year, please notify Stephanie LeFever at slefever@artsbasedschool.com


Siblings of students also receive priority, but must fill out an enrollment application. You must complete an application for the 2018-19 school year for siblings of current students in order to reserve a space before the lottery.  Deadline for receiving applications is Feb 2 @ 3pm


ABS Spelling Bee

We will be holding our annual spelling bee for third through eighth grade students on Friday, January 5th. The top three winners from each classroom will participate in the school wide event.   Winners will proceed to the Regional Spelling Bee.


January Jam- Friday, January 12th 2:30-4:00pm

Kick back and relax, we’ll take care of the kids.  For $5 we will provide a fun afternoon with a live  DJ,  music,  and dancing for ABS kids from 2:30 to 4:00pm.  Snacks and drinks will be available for purchase. ($1 for drinks, chips, and candy.  $.50 for popcorn).  ABS 5th -8th graders only in the 7th St Building.    All parents must park and come inside to pick up students at or before 4:00.  Permission Slip and Money must be turned in by Thursday, January 11.   Students will not be permitted to stay without a permission slip.  Permission Slip


If you have any questions please contact, Ryan Leigh Runyon. (ryanleigh@gmail.com)

Volunteer opportunities available, view link below:



Parent Council News:

ABS Sweatshirt Orders

It’s time to order your very own ABS Sweatshirt! Parents and Students can have these snuggly, soft sweatshirts just in time for the chilly winter days!

* All ordering/payments to be completed on line @ this link: https://www.customink.com/g/bbg0-00b8-ersy
* Orders must be completed by January 5 to be included in this bulk order
* Orders will be delivered to school sometime the week of January 15 and be distributed at that time to your oldest student
* Add your oldest child’s Grade/Teacher and name in the notes to make the sorting easier when the orders return
* Note that the “Next Level” Hoodie does hang freely at the waist. The “Jerzees” style has the traditional banded-near-waist sweat shirt bottom.
* If you have questions, please feel free to email aprilcgreenwood@gmail.com


No Parent Council Meeting in January

There will not be a Parent Council meeting in January.  We hope to see you at our next meet on Friday, February 16.  Last month’s meeting minutes are attached.


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).


Communication Glitch

My apologies for the trouble with email communication last evening.  There seems to have been some corruption in the group distribution list.  I did resend and that seemed to solve the problem for most.  Please note that any school delay or cancellation is also posted on local news stations.