ABS Thursday Notes- March 10, 2016

Thursday Notes                           

Published for the Arts Based School Community                                                               March 10, 2016





How We Do It and Why

By Mary Siebert


“But soft! What light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.” – William Shakespeare, from Romeo and Juliet


To prepare for our 5th grade’s complex production of Romeo & Juliet on the Border, students studied a vast array of material: America’s Reconstruction via the western cattle drive era of the late 1800s, cowboy poetry of the era, maps of cattle trails and biomes of the west, period folk songs along with popular songs and dances from both America’s West and Northern Mexico, 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.

Bob Moyer, founder of Shakespeare Lives! and former director of the UNCSA high school drama program, joined ABS teachers in introducing students to Shakespeare, the reconstructed Globe Theatre, and the timeless story elements of Romeo and Juliet.  Clashing cultures, fear and intolerance of strangers, and the challenges of resolving differences and sustaining peace were recognized as immediate and current themes even in a fifth-grade classroom.

ABS counselor, Amanda Sullivan, taught a lesson in which students considered how the story would have changed, if Romeo had called 9-1-1, and 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 introduced and choreographed complicated stage combat, while teaching students that violence in movies, TV, and 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.

Shakespearean English was studied, its iambic pentameter, its clever names and insults and hidden rhymes. We translated it first into our own vernacular, and then into turn-of-the-century cowboy phraseology.  The original Shakespeare is preserved in heightened moments of emotion.  The Hispanic Arts Initiative helped develop the project, assuring cultural accuracy of music, dance, and costumes. Students write research papers, which are presented at the performance, about various topics pertinent to the era, and also write about their individual characters, developing a back story.

     The form and history of the Mexican song form, the corrido, was studied and adapted. Our original corrido lyrics retell the story outlined within Shakespeare’s prologue.  Most of the songs in this production are historic American cowboy and northern Mexican folk songs from the late 1800s, with a few exceptions.  (Even La Bamba, represented as a fragment, is a Mexican political satire song dating back to 1683.)  Songs by Stephen Foster (Camptown RacesJeannie With the Light Brown HairO! Susanna) were greatly popular commercial hits in the mid to late 1800s.

And the lovey-dovey stuff? All substitution. We call it “elephants and unicorns.” I ask students to imagine what surprise they could imagine waiting for them at home that would fill them with joy. They fling ideas: tickets to visit another country, their own horse, a sports car, a room full of cupcakes, an opportunity to bring peace to the world. One year, Juliet said that she’d like a unicorn. Romeo dreamt of an elephant. And so, when Romeo spies Juliet across the room for the first time, he does not think “what a beautiful girl!” because we are in 5th grade, and we don’t do that stuff yet. But he might think “Wait!…is that…a unicorn?” and he moves in closer, hoping that the unicorn might be just for him.

Performances of this 45-minute blockbuster are today and tomorrow at 7:00 p.m. at the Arts Council Theater, at 610 Coliseum Drive in Winston -Salem, 27106. Admission is free, and a donations will be taken.


Annual Giving Campaign

It’s Week FIVE of our Annual Giving Campaign!





There are many ways to contribute:  send in an envelope with your child, mail one in, drop by either front office OR simply click on this link to donate online quickly and easily!



Community Creates!  Save the Date

Our Community Creates! fundraising auction is scheduled for May 7.  Community Creates! pairs local artists and community leaders to create artwork together that will be auctioned to fund arts programming for children at the Arts Based School.  We use the term “collaborate” very loosely- whatever is comfortable for the artist; anything from taking a tour of the
artist’s studio to helping select a previously executed piece, to a one-on-one brainstorm and sketching session. The goal is to enhance, rather than impede, the creative process for both the artist and the community leader.

Community Creates! Components:

  • Live Auction Pairs of local artists and community leaders team up to collaborate on an original work of art. The resulting unique creations vary from oils on canvas, metalwork, photography, watercolors, fibers and many other inspiring collaborations.
  • Silent Auction An eclectic mix of original works of unique finds and arts-themed experiences.
  • 100 for $100 One hundred local artists each create an original work of art on an 8×10 canvas with the only guidance being the idea of ‘community’. Each artist is encouraged to explore the theme in any way they are inspired. All works are signed and dated on the backs of the canvases.  Guests purchase pieces, all priced at $100, based on their connection to the work and not on the perceived value of the artist.
  • Food, Drink and Entertainment Heavy hors d’ oeuvres, beer, and wine are included in the ticket price as well as live musical entertainment.


ABS 2016-17 School Calendar

ABS’ board approved the 2016-17 school calendar at the last meeting.  A copy of the calendar is attached to this email and available on the school website.


Parent Council Meeting March 11

Our next meeting is Friday, March 11th at 8:15 am in the teacher resource room of the MLK Building. The agenda is attached to this week’s Thursday Notes.



Get Ready to Jump Rope For Heart!

The K-Kids are sponsoring one of the most popular events, Jump Rope For Heart, to benefit the American Heart Association. Our Jump Rope For Heart Event will be held on Friday, March 18, for kindergarten through 5th graders. We will extend fundraising through the month of March, with funds due Wednesday, March 23. Look in your Thursday packets for information on this event, with specific details on how to set up an easy, online fundraising site that connects to our school Jump Rope for Heart site. Now ready, set, JUMP!


Garden Work Day

Saturday, March 19   9:00 to 1:00

The next outdoor work day at ABS is sponsored by the K-Kids. It’s time to get serious about spring before spring gets ahead of us! Come help weed, mulch, prune, and more. Bring snacks, hats, gloves, kids, and fun for the little ones, and rack up lots of volunteer hours all in one day. RSVP appreciated but not required. Matt Mayers (mlmayers@gmail.com or 723-7189)


Around Town…

Piedmont Opera invites students to attend “Student Night at the Opera”  for the Stephen Sondheim musical A Little Night Music next Wednesday, March 16th, from 7:30 – 10:00. Students pay $5.00 a piece, and must have an adult with them (no more than one adult per student, but groups of students may attend with one adult.) Adults pay $15.00 a piece. Students may leave at intermission to avoid a late school night, if adults prefer. Mild adult content. Call 336.725.7101 for more information.


Art in the Afternoon at Sawtooth – Saturday, March 19 from 1 to 4 PM.  Preview Camp Sawtooth, ARTeens and Summer Art Immersion at this community open house featuring hands-on art activities and live art demonstrations throughout the afternoon. The Davis Gallery will exhibit the work of Sawtooth 4th – 12th grade students while the Corridor Gallery will spotlight several of the School’s K-12 instructors, Prospective students and parents are invited to meet instructors and tour studio classrooms.  Free Sawtooth memberships (valued at $35 each) awarded to any student who registers for a summer camp or workshop during Art in the Afternoon.  Free and open to the public.  For more information visit Sawtooth.org