ABS Thursday Notes- May 5, 2016
Published for the Arts Based School Community May 5, 2016
How We Do It and Why
By Mary Siebert
“Cognitive growth is enhanced in those environments that foster and respect social interaction – where learners are accepted and enjoyed by others.” – Rogoff, 1990
My middle school years coincided with the release of the Beatles’ last album, Let it Be. This reveals my age, (I’m proud to have made it this far,) and the richness of my pop music environment (Michael Jackson’s I’ll Be There was released the same year,) but it also means that Hey Jude was one of the “slow dances” played at the 8th grade parties. For me, this was a liability. I was already 5’8” tall, and long legs were not a cool thing at that age. I could not control those colt legs. I tripped and ran into things and loped about helplessly as the petite girls starred in kickball and dance and skiing and general cuteness. Inevitably, an embarrassed 5’ tall boy would be my partner when Hey Jude was cranked up, and my gawkiness was painfully spot lit as the “Nah, nah nahs” at the end of Hey Jude dragged on for-EVER and I struggled to figure out what to do with my hands. Once, I remember just folding them on top of the boy’s head.
When I watched ABS’ 8th graders execute complex staging and choreography during Lion King, from elegant gestures of mourning to courageous leaps, climbing over one another’s backs, allowing teams of partners to lift them through the air, partnering in intimate duets, pounding through stampede scenes and loping like hyenas, or gliding like sylphs with glowing orbs in their hands, I was astonished. The contrast to my own early teens was laughable. The self-confidence and mutual trust these students have developed is not visible in any 8th grade I’ve ever seen. This, in spite of the fact that they are experiencing the same traumatic shifts in hormones, strained friendships, peer anxiety and physical self-awareness that are common to all young teens. My daughter, who attended a local middle school before ABS had one to offer, just laughed and rolled her eyes when I asked whether her 8th grade class could have accomplished such a project. Nothing mildly comparable was offered, but there wasn’t the social capital amongst peers to attempt it anyway.
Fellow educators from other schools who saw the show marveled, not only at the implicit trust and self-control they witnessed in the actual performing, but also at the poise of students who experienced unexpected costume or sound-system failures on stage. The professionalism was as breathtaking as the artistic skills. Without revealing distress, the students stepped behind a curtain, or even deftly fixed the problem on stage, and continued with no apparent disruption.
Recently a friend without ties to the school remarked about a moment she witnessed among our 5th graders during Romeo and Juliet on the Border. While singing a solo, she said, one student sneezed, but continued on without losing concentration, without missing a beat, and not one other student on stage lost focus. She said she keeps thinking about that. How, she wonders, do you teach a pre-teen such composure?
These skills were again apparent during last night’s delightful Builders’ Club Talent Show, which Ms. Tarmey and Ms. Leab have constructed to be student-developed, student-led, student-run, and student-performed, with minimal technical support from adults. Humor, professionalism, mutual respect and support were the order of the evening. When the pesky technological glitch occurred, there was no breakdown, but improvisation and mutual resiliency prevailed. This was not a competition, but a celebration. There were vigorous shouts and applause for every individual who stepped courageously forward, a revelation of leadership and collaboration across all middle school grades, with an estimated $1,000 raised for a charitable cause.
Our middle school students outperform state scores in end-of-grade tests, and outperform the national average in MAP testing (just as our K-4 students do.) We are proud of that, but we value the additional skills our students develop which are tested not by the government, but by life.
Don’t miss Community Creates!-May 7, 2016, 7-11p.m. Tickets are available for purchase $40 per person online at www.communitycreates.com until Friday at 3pm, in the front office at the MLK building, or at the event. Questions? Call or email Claire O’Boyle 336-748-4116 ext 1029, firstname.lastname@example.org
News From Parent Council
The Last Parent Council Meeting will be Friday, May 13th at 8:15am. If you have any suggested topics please email Lindsay Deibler (email@example.com).
Nominations still remain open for Parent Council Board. Elections will be held at the last Parent Council Meeting of the year. All parents and guardians of ABS students are eligible to nominate themselves. If you are interested in serving on the board, please contact Lindsay Deibler (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Michelle Hopkins Lawrence (email@example.com).
Band and Chorus Mini-Concerts
Band and Chorus Mini-Concerts
There will be brief concerts under a big tent in the 7th Street courtyard on the following dates. Parking will be open on the grassy field.
Monday, May 9: 5th band 11:30
Monday, May 9: 6th band 12:30
Tuesday, May 10: 7th/8th band 11:30
Tuesday, May 10: 7th/8th chorus 12:30
With profound gratitude the teachers and staff at ABS would like to thank the parents and students who spoiled us with appreciation this week! We have been showered with May flowers, treated to great food, coffee and tea, sweet, heart-melting notes and so much more. Thank you all for these efforts. We are feeling the love!!
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)