ABS Thursday Notes- March 26, 2020

Thursday Notes                       

Published for the Arts Based School Community                         March 26, 2020


How We Do it and Why

By Mary Siebert


“Painting is just another way of keeping a diary.” – Pablo Picasso


In Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, a messenger is dispatched with a critically important message for Romeo: “Juliet is not really dead, but only sleeping!” Unfortunately, he is unable to deliver the message. He gets quarantined along the way; stuck in a home where officials believe there may be an outbreak of plague. Romeo never receives the message and, well, we all know how that turns out.


Unlike Shakespeare’s time, messages are easy to share during our quarantine. In fact, we might be overwhelmed with them. The news, the opinions, the advice that flows through our computers can swamp even the spring buds and bird songs calling for our attention. But here is one bright spot: the arts. They are being showered upon us as abundantly as seasonal pollen.


The internet brings us quarantined Italians singing from their balconies to share love and courage across empty streets to their neighbors, who receive the offer and join in. The shuttered Metropolitan Opera in New York offers free nightly live stream opera videos, and hundreds of thousands of viewers from all over the world overwhelm the system. The world’s greatest art museums offer virtual gallery visits. Free dance classes are offered. Poetry is read and shared by the poets themselves. 


At home, ABS children are invited to draw pictures of their families, comparing them to families in famous works of art. Letters and cards filled with pictures and poetry are shipped to separated friends and relatives. Parents receive abundant ideas from the school, from old friends on Facebook, from corporations and websites and countless collections of curriculum that urge us to have our children make art, sing along, dance in the living room.


One ABS family shared photos of their two young daughters performing an improvised play on their front porch, for an audience of a single elderly neighbor who sat 20 feet away, on the sidewalk. The play was one in an ongoing series, so the audience had something to look forward to for several days; a memorable connection during a time of careful detachment.


Parents, too, may be using the arts now to anchor themselves, to become present. A new recipe, finally finishing a textile project, drawing, singing, dancing with your partner while your children watch and wonder. These are things that can make time stand still long enough to create memories.


The arts can help us process, document and express this strange and unique time in our lives. When our children describe these weeks to their own grandchildren, the  journals, poetry, paintings, videos and songs they save will become the “primary sources of history” that document their own experience. These too, are messages, sent forward in time to ourselves.



Visiting the Visiting Artist

Kyle Webster is an ABS dad, a graphic artist, an inventor, and a frequent visiting artist to ABS. Right now, you can visit Kyle at Adobe, and try out some free drawing lessons as a family! Here is the message we received from Kyle:


With everybody stuck at home, Adobe and I decided to create 25 minute art videos for kids around the world to enjoy (ages 5, right on through high school). This week, the videos air Tues-Thur, live at 5pm, EST at https://behance.net/adobelive , but all episodes are archived. You can see the episode here: https://www.behance.net/live/videos/5101/Draw-Along-with-Kyle-T-Webster-1-of-3


Best wishes, and please stay safe and healthy!


Latest Updates on COVID-19


Here are a few FAQ:  (Some of the questions are the same as last week, but the answers have been updated. ) 

How long will schools be closed?

The Governor has closed all NC schools until May 15

The federal government, the Governor’s Office, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Public Instruction continue to monitor this rapidly-developing public health situation.  Closures may be extended as new information becomes available.


Will we need to make up these missed days?

Only the General Assembly has the authority to waive or forgive instructional days and hours required by the state’s school calendar law. We will continue to advocate for districts’ flexibility within the calendar that best meets the needs of students.


Will we have Spring Break?

Spring Break (April 10-April 17)  ABS will have Spring Break as scheduled and parents should not expect online instruction during Spring Break.


What will happen to EOGs/EOCs?

The State Board of Education received a federal waiver of required testing for the current school year. This is good news; however, it does not mean by itself that standardized testing is canceled for this spring, since there are state-mandated tests that can only be canceled by an act of the state legislature.


How will my child keep up with learning?

Our teachers are working hard to share activities and resources with families via email.  We are shifting online instruction beginning Monday, March 30 to deliver new content in required core academics (math, language arts, science, social studies) aligned with grade-level standards.  Arts activities will continue to be provided as optional activities.  We are mindful that many of our students are sharing devices and bandwidth in a home where several people are trying to work and learn online at the same time.   If your student needs additional accommodations or support, please contact your classroom teacher. 


Is school lunch available for those in need?

WS/FCS continues to provide free meals to anyone 18 and under.  The school cafeterias will be open to distribute meals between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.



To order your yearbook – Orders can be placed by visiting the Strawbridge website at http://www.strawbridge.net/ and clicking the red “Order Pictures and Yearbooks” button at the top of the page. The price is $22 and our school code is YB106312.



Summer Camp registration is now OPEN to ABS families. Be sure to visit our website to register your child while spaces are still available.