ABS Thursday Notes- May 25, 2017

Thursday Notes                           

Published for the Arts Based School Community                                       May 25, 2017




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. 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 comments about testing or fear-inducing comments. We reassure our students that they are capable and well-prepared.

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.


MAP results sent home

Third through Eighth grade students will receive MAP results in their Thursday Packets today.  Please take some time to review these results.   Overall results show that ABS students in each of those grades achieve higher scores than the national norms in all areas tested: math, science, reading, and language arts.   Congratulations to our students and their teachers for a job well done.   If you have any questions regarding MAP results, please contact your child’s teacher.


mClass Reading Results Sent Home

The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction has implemented and required a kindergarten through third grade reading assessment called mCLASS:Reading 3D to help teachers assess, track and support each student’s reading skills.  Each student will be assessed every trimester using the online assessment program.  mCLASS:Reading 3D will instantly analyze your child’s development in grade-appropriate foundational reading skills. Teachers will use this data to focus their instruction around your child’s specific needs, in areas that may include:

  • Hearing and using sounds in spoken words (Phonemic Awareness)
  • Knowing sounds of letters and sounding out written words (Alphabetic Principle)
  • Reading words in stories easily, quickly, and correctly (Accuracy and Fluency)
  • Understanding what they read (Reading Comprehension).


In this week’s Thursday Packet, you will receive a letter outlining your child’s specific assessment results and progress as a reader. The letter will also include learning activities you and your child can do together at home to reinforce skills learned at school.  Parent support and reading at home are a vital part of your child’s education. The teacher’s efforts, combined with your support, will help your child read with mastery and confidence.  If you have any questions about the assessment, the activities, or your child’s classroom work and progress, please talk to your child’s teacher during conference time.


Testing Continues…

Testing Schedule

May 26 EOG Science 5th and 8th grades

May 30  EOG Reading Make Up Tests & RtA-3rd

May 31 EOG Math Make Up Tests

June 1 EOG Science Make Up Tests


EOG results will be shared with parents at the third trimester conferences- June 7 and 8.

First Annual Summer Book Swap

First Annual Summer Book Swap (MLK building)

Thank you to everyone who has brought in books for the swap!   If you haven’t brought yours in yet, it is not too late.  Please send the books in with your child TOMORROW MORNING or bring them to FRIDAY SING TOMORROW AFTERNOON.  Collection boxes are located in the halls and Ms. Hannah will have a box in the front office for Friday Sing.


What is the Summer Book Swap?

The mission: To fill all of the children’s tote bags with “new” (but used) books to encourage summer reading.

You can help: Look through personal bookcases at home and grab a few books you have read over and over and are ready to swap for a different book.

What types of books: All levels of books (appropriate for K-4 readers or for family reading).  No board books please.

Drop off books: Designated boxes are located near your child’s classroom and at the front desk.

Field Day

Field Day will be held on June 2nd 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.


Yearbooks and Class Pictures             

Yearbooks and Class Pictures are still available for purchase in both buildings at the front desks.  Yearbooks are $20 and Class Pictures are $10.  Quantities are limited.


Band Reminders for Rising 5th and 7th Grade

Fifth Grade Instrument choice surveys are due by Tuesday, May 30.  Optional Parent Rental Night at Jackson’s Music (with Ms. Micka,) 1409 S Stratford Rd., Wednesday, May 31 from 4-7 p.m.

Seventh Grade choice of Chorus or Band due by email by Friday, June 2 to: cmicka@artsbasedschool.com and acooper@artsbasedschool.com.


End of Year Checklist

  • Pick up medications from the front office
  • Be sure all fees and lunch balances are paid
  • Let us know if you will not be returning to ABS next year.  If your child is transferring to another school, please let us know where to send your child’s records by emailing Stephanie LeFever – slefever@artsbasedschool.com
  • Friday, June 2nd  is the last day of school.  Early dismissal.


Around Town…

Free Show: The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

UNCSA’s Acting Out Program presents The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, directed by ABS drama teacher Nick Zayas and featuring ABS student Austin Willard and alumna Bella Hart-Peck. ABS students and families may attend final dress rehearsal free of charge on Thursday, June 1st at 7:30pm, at UNCSA’s Agnes DeMille Theatre on the UNCSA Campus. (Number 22 on this campus map.)

Upcoming Events

EOG Science- Grade 5,8

Fri, May 26

Final Friday Sing – K-4

Fri, May 26, 1:50pm – 2:20pm
No School- Memorial Day

Mon, May 29
EOG Make up Test-Reading

Tue, May 30

RtA Reading Test-3rd

Tue, May 30

Fly-up Farrell

Tue, May 30, 9:00am – 9:30am

Fly-up McNamara

Tue, May 30, 9:30am – 10:00am
Fly-up Meeks

Tue, May 30, 11:45am – 12:15pm
EOG Make Up Test-Math

Wed, May 31

EOG Make Up Test-Science

Thu, June 1

8th-Graduation Rehearsal

Thu, June 1, 11:50am – 12:50pm

6th movie premiere

Thu, June 1, 1:50pm – 2:20pm

Field Day-Weather Permitting

Fri, June 2

Last Day of School

Fri, June 2

Early Dismissal

Fri, June 2, 11:45am – 12:00pm