ABS Thursday Notes-March 21, 2019

Thursday Notes                           

Published for the Arts Based School Community                                     March 21, 2019




How We Do It and Why

By Mary Siebert


“To forget a Holocaust is to kill twice.” – Elie Weisel


Brundibár is a children’s opera by Czech composer Hans Krása, based on a cheerful folk tale. It is widely regarded as the finest opera ever composed for children to sing (with an adult orchestra.) It premiered in 1941, at a Jewish orphanage in Prague. In 1942, Hans Krása was arrested by the Nazis and imprisoned at Terezín (Theresienstadt) concentration camp, where an estimated 33,000 people died of overcrowded and unsanitary conditions. 88,000 people were sent from Terezín to Auschwitz and other death camps. The Nazis allowed the children of Terezín to perform Brundibár at least 55 times at Terezín, routinely shipping the young singers to death camps afterward, to be replaced by a new cast of children. When the International Red Cross visited Terezín in 1944, the Nazis theatrically staged the camp as a temporary showpiece to refute growing allied suspicions that Jews were being exterminated. Terezín was staged with a new Kindergarten, a park, flowers, rich food, and concerts. The prisoners were dressed in fine clothing. Just before the arrival of the Red Cross, the Nazis shipped 7,500 people to Auschwitz, to create more open space. The opera Brundibár was performed for the Red Cross visitors, to demonstrate how happy and productive the children of Terezín were. Red Cross representatives reported to the world that Nazi prison camps were safe, clean, and pleasant. Immediately after the Red Cross departed, the cast was sent to Auschwitz to be killed. This innocent little opera has carried the weight of its terrible historical context, ever after.

The Arts Based School’s 7th Graders perform Brundibár annually, as part of a state-required study of World War II, the Holocaust, and genocide. One year, a surviving cast member, Ela Weissberger, visited us and shared memories of the friends she had loved and lost. She stood with our students to join in the “Victory Song,” and asked us always to remember her friends. Memoirs of children who lived at Terezín, the testimony of surviving cast members, historic video footage of a Brundibár performance at the prison camp, and the experience of singing the very notes those children sang, help us consider the Holocaust through the eyes of young victims whose memory we keep alive through this project. We sing in solidarity with those lost friends.


Brundibár will be performed by all ABS 7th graders with a professional orchestra, next week on Thursday, March 28, at 7:00 p.m. at First Presbyterian Worship Center theater, 200 N. Cherry Street. The opera lasts about one-half hour. Admission is free, but donations are gratefully accepted to cover production costs.


Volunteers Needed for load-in of Brundibar sets, 8:00 a.m. next Monday, March 25. We will load items onto the truck at ABS, drive a few blocks to the theater, and unload the truck. The who process takes about one hour. Volunteers are also needed to return the sets immediately after the performance at 7:35 p.m. on Thursday, March 28.


Student/Parent Contact Information

Each student will have a pink sheet of paper in their Thursday Notes folder this week that lists the contact information we have on file. Please look over the sheet to make sure your child’s information is correct. No further action is needed if the information is correct.

Please send any changes or additions to Stephanie LeFever at slefever@artsbasedschool.com


From the Garden

This week, we were so pleased to receive word that the Garden Club Council is awarding a grant to ABS for border plantings of native trees, shrubs, and grasses. Thank you, Kristen Haaf, for shepherding this project!


Middle School Garden Club

Calling all middle schoolers! We’ve got a new after school Garden Club on Tuesdays from 3:00-3:30. Help us plant vegetables and flowers! If you’re interested, see Ms. McNamara.


New Garden Shutterfly Site

We have a new Shutterfly site where we’ll post ongoing gardening tasks that volunteers can do on their own time. There’s also a garden wishlist and a calendar of workdays. Go to

https://absgardencoop.shutterfly.com to sign up.


Garden Workdays

Join us this Saturday, March 16 for an ABS garden workday from 9-12. We will be focused on weeding and preparing garden beds for the teachers. Bring garden gloves, water bottles, and garden tools if you have them! Future garden workdays:

Every Tuesday, 3-4

Saturday, April 13, 9-12

Saturday, May 11, 9-12

Saturday, June 1, 9-12


Parent Satisfaction Survey

Yes, that’s you – we want to know what you think!  Please follow the link ABS Parent Survey

to the online about our school.  Your responses are completely anonymous and help us determine what’s working well and what needs more work!  Please take a few minutes to complete and submit.  Thank you!


Parent Council

Don’t forget that attendance at Parent Council meetings counts toward volunteer hours.  If you have requests for future agenda items, please send them to Parent Council Co-Chairs, Joy Blaser (joy.blaser@gmail.com) and Becky Dickson (rebeccapdickson@gmail.com).  This month’s meeting minutes are attached to the Thursday Notes email. Two book recommendations for parents interested in learning more about Positive Discipline:   Punished by Rewards by Alfie Kohn

Positive Discipline by Jane Nelson



ABS Summer Camps!

ABS is excited to offer Summer Camps this June and July! Join ABS staff on adventures that explore science, arts, movement, magic, and more! All summer camps will run from 9am to 2pm Monday to Friday. Campers should bring a lunch to camp each day. Camps will be filled on a first come, first served basis. Payment is due at the time of registration.   Camp registration is currently open to ABS students only and filling up quickly.   See more information and registration at ABS Summer Camps