ABS Thursday Notes – January 7, 2016

Thursday Notes                           

Published for the Arts Based School Community                                                               January 7, 2016



How We Do It and Why

-Mary Siebert


“I like beautiful melodies telling me terrible things.” – Tom Waits


The arts can glorify an unjust cause, insult an innocent party, inspire action or soothe the suffering heart. As we teach our students how to use and appreciate the arts, we also aim to acquaint them with works of art that are pertinent to important historic events, as required by the State of North Carolina and as appropriate for each grade level. When we chose to prepare the opera Brundibár as part of 7th grade’s study of the Holocaust, for example, we also debated whether or not to have students read the book Night, by Elie Weisel. After much consideration and input from many points of view, we determined that the opera provided an appropriate entrée to a difficult topic, while the book’s graphic descriptions went too far for many children of this age. Of course the book, which many educators consider to be ideal Holocaust literature for teens, is still available. Our children are likely to read it in high school. They are not likely ever to perform Brundibár again.

These are never easy decisions. We are reluctant to teach our children about inhumane and tragic events, because we want to preserve their joyful innocence as long as possible. But when funding is delivered to a public school, the North Carolina Standard Course of Study is delivered along with it, and in order to receive the funding, we must teach the standards. The standards, beginning at 4th grade, include information about the Civil War, for example, and there is no way to teach this without difficult conversations. The line we draw between “too much information” and accuracy is negotiated through experience and input from others: parents, educators, and experts in pertinent fields.

It is our responsibility to introduce children to symbols, images, songs, and stories that are part of the national dialogue and heritage. But at what age do we teach them, for example, how to identify the Confederate battle flag? They must be able to join in the debate about the power of that symbol, and they have a right to an opinion. At what age?

We are required to “Explain the impact of stereotyping and discrimination on other people’s self-respect and feelings” (Goal 5.ICR.1.3) beginning in 5th grade. An example of how we might use the arts to approach this topic is to circle around a gathering drum and play the familiar rhythm: BUM bum bum bum, BUM bum bum bum…” which students still immediately identify as being Native American. And yet it is not Native American and never was. It is an invention of Hollywood, and its propagation is hurtful to those who understand it. It does not contain the heart-beat of traditional rhythms. Even a simple rhythm as a stereotype is so powerful that it can be hurtful. This is important to know.

Yesterday at a 4th grade arts-integration meeting, we debated when to teach children the songs Dixie and Battle Hymn of the Republic. These rousing melodies, representing South and North during the Civil War, are still inflammatory…particularly Dixie. The melody is important. Our students should know it. They should know why it was popular (Abe Lincoln loved it, before it symbolized the conflict) and why it is capable of upsetting people now. If it is quoted in another piece of music or played in their presence, Americans should recognize it and know what it represents. We decided not to teach it at 4th grade. We don’t want it cheerfully whistled in the back seat, we want it studied with thoughtful consideration. It is, perhaps, too volatile a weapon to be handed to a child of 9 or 10.


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.


ABS Spelling Bee

We will be holding our annual spelling bee for third through eighth grade students on Friday, January 8th. 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 15th

January Jam is an after-school dance party open to all ABS students. There are two dances, one in the MLK Building and one in the 7th Street Building. The dance is from 2:30 to 4:30 and admission is $5. Snacks will be sold. Permission slips are in today’s Thursday packets and are due back by January 14th. They will not be accepted on the day of the event. We ask for parent volunteers to chaperone or help with set up/clean up.  Children will be dismissed from inside the MLK and 7th Street buildings. You must come inside to pick up your child/children. There will NOT be an outside pick-up line.   Ryan Leigh Runyon is in charge of volunteers. We’re using VolunteerSpot to organize the volunteers .

(VolunteerSpot does not share your email address with anyone. If you prefer not to use your email address, please contact Ryan Leigh Runyon at ryanleigh@gmail.com and she can sign you up manually).

Please sign up to volunteer for ABS January Jam!  Here’s how it works in 3 easy steps:
1. Click this link to go to our invitation page on VolunteerSpot: http://vols.pt/haiMkQ
2. Enter your email address: (You will NOT need to register an account on VolunteerSpot)
3. Sign up! Choose your spots – VolunteerSpot will send you an automated confirmation and reminders. Easy!


Box Top Collection Monday January 11

Please bring your box tops to school. Students can drop them off in either building.


ABS Yearbook Deadline January 15

Simply order online via the link below or on the Strawbridge website. The cost is $20.


if you prefer to send your payment by check, you can order with the forms that were sent home in Thursday packets. (Extra envelopes are on the front table of the MLK building.) Give the forms to Donna Brown in the 7th Street building or Angela Wise in the MLK building.


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) as well as the school phone message (748-4116.)


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. 25 families may complete online applications for the magnet school program of their choice at the WSFC magnet school website http://wsfcs.k12.nc.us/magnet

Magnet Fair

January 9, 2016 — 10am -2pm

Benton Convention Center, Lower Level


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 2016-2017 School Year

As we prepare for next year’s enrollment lottery (2016–2017), it is important to know how many spaces are available in each grade.  As a current student, your child has priority placement.  You should soon receive an email from Helpcounter requesting your intent for the 2016-2017 school year.  Please reply to the email as soon as possible.  Your intent must be received before February 1st so we know to hold a space for your child.


Siblings of students also receive priority, but must fill out an enrollment application. You must complete an application for the 2016-17 school year for siblings of current students in order to reserve a space before the lottery.  Deadline for receiving applications is Feb 5th @ 3pm


Assistant Pricipal Raffle Drawing Tomorrow!

Be the first Assistant Principal of the New Year!  Get your raffle tickets today from either front office, only $1 each ($5 for 6, $10 for 12).  This month’s Assistant Principal will be announced at Friday Sing tomorrow!


Around Town…

SECCA will be having its first 2nd Saturday of the year on Jan 9 from 10am to 1pm, making clay citizens inspired by Maready Evergreen’s installation “The Long Road”. This program gives families a chance to make art together, see wonderful contemporary art, and watch cartoons, for FREE.


The Winston-Salem Festival Ballet’s Alice in Wonderland performance this Sat, January 9th at Hanes Brand Theater.  See flyer attached to this week’s Thursday Notes.