ABS Thursday Notes- May 17, 2018

Thursday Notes                           

Published for the Arts Based School Community                                                  May 17, 2018




How We Do It and Why

By Mary Siebert

“…if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world.” – Neil Gaiman

The culture of our school is so positive that visiting artists, who travel from school-to-school around the community and the state, report being struck immediately by the elevating atmosphere. Students and staff are noticeably relaxed, high-spirited, cheerful, and full of creative ideas. When the visitor asks for input, many hands shoot up and children are excited to share. Teachers have built this culture by requesting student input for everything from social problem-solving in the classroom to problems that our world leaders struggle to solve. Our students appear confident that their opinions will be respected and heard, and they offer many solutions, understanding that failure is the road to discovery. These are the skills that create successful entrepreneurs, artists, and citizens.


In making art, you will make mistakes. They might lead to new, better ideas. If you examine your mistake with curiosity instead of harsh judgment, that slip-up may lead to a lateral slide, instead of a fall. When we make an unexpected mark in a drawing, it might lead to a new, more exciting shape. When we rehearse attentively and playfully, we become supple and responsive, not rigid. Improvisation is a key to both success and delight.


Even parents on the other side of the world seek this kind of learning environment for their children. Eighty percent of EB-5 Visas, which grant permanent U.S. residency to foreigners who invest half a million dollars in U.S. based development projects, are given to Chinese citizens who wait up to ten years for acceptance. When NPR reporter Ari Shapiro investigated who these citizens were, he met applicants who are middle-class families, cobbling together the investment to give their children educational opportunities in the U.S. He quoted a mother who said of her son’s education: “He is in a good local school, but all they do is study for tests. The Chinese education system turns everyone into the same type of person.” She said that she and other EB-5 applicants want their children to think more creatively and analytically. This parent can see that her child will have the best chances for a rich, rewarding life, both emotionally and financially, if he is both well-trained and innovative.


We take testing very seriously at ABS, and we are intentional about the mood we create for our students. We make it clear that there may be absolutely no departure from the rules. We strike a positive tone, reminding staff that the students will respond to the can-do attitude that we exhibit. We coach our teachers to avoid negative or fear-inducing comments about testing. We reassure our students that they are capable and well-prepared. We also encourage you, the parents, to be positive about testing. It’s great for students to have opportunities to challenge themselves in every way, especially in our safe environment. They can only leap buildings in a single bound if they have had a little practice. Take it seriously! Take it on! The grown-up world will provide all kinds of tests, and we want our students to boldly take them all on.


We also adhere stringently to every federal and state expectation. A detailed testing plan is reviewed at staff meetings. Documents are carefully counted and locked away, appropriately. Signs appear all about the building, reminding children and adults to maintain quiet. Staff are trained to administer and proctor tests. (We are especially grateful to parents who volunteer and train to proctor during this time.) While students are testing, no loud singing, drama games, or dance classes take place. No children play in the playground adjacent to the building, and K-2 teachers schedule field trips, giving their children a chance to learn out in the community, while providing silent spaces at school.


Our students thrive with a balance of creativity and measured assessment of skills. Like a performance or an art show, tests reveal one slice of what we do and what we know. They can be exciting, inspiring, and a bit intimidating. We learn to breathe, stay present, be courageous, and tackle each challenge with gusto. The more resiliency and self-confidence we develop, the better the outcome. Afterward, we review the experience and consider how to grow and build even more success next time. We believe education should include experimentation, self-expression, practice, assessment and mastery, just as art-making does.



Parking on 7th Street

The city informed us that they had received a complaint that on-street parking is causing a safety issue on 7th Street.  There are  existing no parking signs on the south side of 7th Street from the railroad tracks to Patterson Avenue.  The city has instructed parking enforcement to monitor the area and issue violations where appropriate.  The complaint also expressed concern about the on-street parking on the north side of 7th street adjacent to the school property.  Recently our bus had a difficult time exiting the school lot and the parked vehicles are a sight distance issue.  The city will soon install additional no parking signs on the north side of 7th street from the railroad tracks east to the school property line.  The signs should be installed in the next couple of weeks.


Pertussis Alert!

We were contacted by the Forsyth County Health Dept to alert us that someone in the audience of the ABS 8th grade choral  concert (Thursday, May 10)  tested positive for pertussis (whooping cough).  If you attended the concert you may have been exposed.  Several Forsyth High Schools have also had confirmed cases of pertussis.

Pertussis is an infection that affects the airways and lungs. It is easily spread from person to person by coughing or sneezing. It causes a severe cough that can last for weeks or months, sometimes leading to coughing fits or vomiting. Anyone can get pertussis, but it is especially dangerous and can even be deadly for babies and people with weakened immune systems.

Please make sure your family’s vaccinations are up-to-date. Protection against pertussis from the childhood vaccine, DTaP, decreases over time. Older children and adults, including pregnant women, need to get a pertussis booster shot called “Tdap” to protect themselves and infants near or around them. To get the Tdap vaccine, contact your doctor or call the Forsyth County Health Department. If you have any questions or concerns, please call the Forsyth County Health Department at 336-703-3235 or 336-703-3199

Parent Council News:
Announcing the 18-19 Parent Council Board

New Parent Council Board members were elected in last week’s Parent Council meeting.  The officers for next year are:


Co-Chairs:  Joy Blaser & Becky Dickson

Secretary:  Sam Pearce

Hospitality:  Jessica Bell & April Greenwood

Tech Support:  Amy Archambault, Jason Ekstein

Parent Rep Coordinator:  Jennifer Bender

Annual Giving:  Jennifer Bender & Brandi Cleveland


Thanks to all of the outgoing and incoming board members for serving our school!


Other news from the Parent Council meeting can be found in the minutes attached to the Thursday Notes e-mail.


Final Box Tops Collection

The Box Tops committee will be be making a final collection at the end of this month.  Please turn in Box Tops to the front desks of either school building by May 25.

Summer Reading Countdown Begins-
Each week until school is out, we will highlight a different summer reading program.

Barnes & Noble Summer Reading Program for kids in Grades 1-6.
This program runs from May 15- September 3rd.  Get a jump start on summer reading and get a free book to read this summer!
Download and print a Reading Journal.  Read ANY eight books and record them in the journal.  Once it’s complete, take your journal to Barnes & Noble and choose a free book from those listed on the journal.

Reading Journals can be found at: www.BN.com/summerreading

ABS Summer Book Swap Donations needed-

Everyone loves a great book to read over the summer and swapping books with friends is a great way to refresh your bookshelf. Join us in helping all students get books to read over the summer by donating books for the ABS Summer Book Swap.

Send in book from May 14th through May 25th (collection boxes will be located in the MLK cafeteria and 7th Street entryway). Donated books will be part of the Summer Book Swap station during field day.

Please bring in gently used books that are appropriate for K-8 readers (no board books please). The more books that are donated the more books each student will get to bring home for the summer.

Thank you in advance for supporting summer reading.

All Library Books Due

All library books are due by Friday, May 25 so that we can begin end-of-the-year inventory the following week. Please check bookshelves and under the beds at home to make sure all have been turned in. Thanks!