ABS Thursday Notes- May 19, 2016

Thursday Notes                           

Published for the Arts Based School Community                                                                        May 19, 2016





How We Do It and Why

By Mary Siebert


Auditioning is the job. If you get the part, that’s gravy.” – Theatre professionals’ saying


One of the challenges of using theater as a means of exploring other curriculum is casting. Most students picture themselves as the protagonist/antagonist in any story; that’s what makes a good story effective. You empathize personally with the characters.

In reading, a student who is romping through the Magic Treehouse series might be overwhelmed by the challenges of Harry Potter. It’s an important part of a teacher’s job to help each student find the “just-right book” for them; one which requires some effort and rewards them with the satisfaction of the delights of reading without discouraging them with daunting vocabulary and structure.

In acting, sometimes a student who sees herself as Cinderella finds that stepping up to actually say the words and play the part is uncomfortable. She easily imagined herself at the ball, but sharing her voice and gestures in public? That’s another thing altogether. If she is thrust into that position before she’s actually ready, she might never try acting again. This lack of confidence can be reflected in adulthood in job interviews or public presentations. It’s difficult for parents to understand sometimes, because theater can be mistakenly thought of as “a time for everyone to shine.” In fact, theater has its naturals and its learners, just as some kids understand math with ease and others need more time and practice. The naturals need to be challenged, and those who grow more slowly need to be encouraged but not overwhelmed.

One way that we nurture our young actors is by developing the script with them. In 1st – 4th grades, students hear a story told, then take turns in the classroom, volunteering to play every part, generating their own lines. This helps them feel familiar and comfortable with the story and lines, gives everyone a chance to try a big part, and gives the teacher a chance to assess who is ready to act larger parts in public. In 1st Grades’ Three Cinderellas we keep it small. Only one class at a time performs. There are seven scenes, and the roles change for each scene, making seven opportunities for leading roles. The acting teacher narrates and prompts, to provide students with a safety net. If there is an awkward silence, the teacher might quickly prompt “…and then the Prince said he would go find the mysterious girl!” stimulating a stage-fright-frozen student to action. Other students might riff on the lines, improvising with ease. Here is part of a recent letter from a parent who was surprised to see her shy child enjoying a performance this week. (Names changed at the child’s/parent’s request.)

Gretchen can be shy, it takes her time to warm up to a space/person/situation. Yesterday, what I saw made my heart explode. I see her blooming in a way I dreamed was possible… But seeing it all come to life – well, I’m typing this from a puddle of my own (happy) tears. And I feel so overwhelmingly lucky that Gretchen spends her days with you all. You combine magic with learning and the result is beauty. What she learns from you she will carry with her all her life. 

     Her smile as she made her first entrance, skirt in hands, crossing the stage…her graceful posture, her confidence as she skipped with her classmates… And the big ball dance – sigh. tears. deep breath. oy. That was my girl, leading the dance, with poise and confidence…and joy. So much joy.

     She has been SO EXCITED for the performance – yesterday when I picked her up after school she said, ‘I wish we could do it all again. I wish it was the first day Ms. Heidi told us about the three Cinderellas. I want to do it again and again!’ “


Instrument Introductions for Rising 5th Graders Tomorrow

One of the many exciting changes awaiting rising 5th graders is that they participate in band. Students may choose from flute, trumpet, clarinet, or trombone for their first year of band. All 4th graders will have a chance to try out each of these instruments tomorrow, when visitors from Jackson’s Music are here for Instrument Introductions. Students will bring home fliers from several local instrument rental companies, after the demonstrations.



End of Grade Testing begins Tues, May 24

Parents, please help your child do his or her best by following these guidelines:

  • Help your child get 9 hours sleep throughout the weekend and each night before the test.
  • Make sure your child eats a healthy breakfast, including more proteins and fewer carbohydrates.
  • BE ON TIME to school. Rushing around creates anxiety.  Late-comers must take a make-up test.
  • No couch potatoes, video games, or on-line junkies the week before.   Go outside and run and play.  You will rest better, think better, and feel better.
  • Help them arrive at school with a positive attitude.

Just a reminder that cell phones and electronic devices are not permitted in any End-of-Grade or End-of-Course test session.  All cell phones or devices will be collected prior to each testing session.  Students may have a book or magazine, but they may not use any electronic devices.  Parents and students may choose to keep all electronic devices at home during testing to avoid any issues.


Testing Schedule

May 24 EOG Reading 3rd & 4th grades

May 25 EOG Math 3rd & 4th grades

May 26 EOG Reading 5th -8th grades

May 27 EOG Math 5th -8th  grades

May 30 No School-Memorial Day

May 31 EOC Math 1

June 1  EOG Science 5th and 8th grades

June 2  EOG Reading Make Up Tests

June 3 EOG Math Make Up Tests

June 6 EOG Science Make Up Tests


EOG results will be shared with parents at the third trimester conferences- June 10 and 11.


Picture Orders

Friday MORNING is the last day for students to turn in picture orders.  After that, you will need to order directly from Strawbridge.  Thank you!


Final Friday Sing

On Friday, June 3, we will all gather in the 7th Street courtyard for an ALL-SCHOOL Friday Sing at 1:50  If the weather prevents an outdoor gathering, Friday Sing will be for only K – 4th graders, in the back space at 1:50.

Last Meeting for K-Kids and Builder’s Clubs

Friday, May 20 will be the last meeting this year for service clubs.  There will be no Friday morning club meetings on May 27 or June 3 due to testing.


Field Day

Field Day will be held on June 7th this year. It’s a half-day and we need volunteers to help the classes run their games. Please contact your class rep if you can help. This is one of the last opportunities of the year to earn volunteer hours.

Around Town…

Sunday, May 22nd @ 4pm @ Watson Hall, Fundraiser for the Alex and Sheila Ewing Scholarship at UNCSA and Salem Band (reserve tickets @ http://www.salemband.org/)

Tuesday, May 24th @ 7:30pm @ Salem Square in Old Salem, Salem Band Concert featuring music from Broadway musicals directed by Drama Dean Emeritus Freedman (attendance FREE)