ABS Thursday Notes- May 7, 2020

Thursday Notes                       

Published for the Arts Based School Community                         May 7, 2020

How We Do It and Why

By Mary Siebert


“Joy is the happiness that doesn’t depend on what happens.” – David Steindl-Rast 


Mr. Denegar was the best piano teacher in Missoula. He was a formidable, wiry, middle-aged bachelor with thick glasses, an edgy voice, wretched breath and a large old white German Shepherd which slept under the piano bench and passed gas all through the lesson. Mr. Denegar was fond of cooking with things nobody in Montana ate in those days: garlic, mushrooms, turnips. Overall, it was a fragrant experience to attend a piano lesson.


He was demanding and precise, and although he was intimidating, he was genuinely dedicated to moving each student forward. When he moved away to Seattle, we, his students, breathed a sigh of blended relief and disappointment, and went our separate ways, with less trepidation and less momentum. As the years passed and I became a professional opera singer, I recognized how extraordinary Mr. Denegar’s teaching had been. My piano skills were life skills.


After years of searching for him, I finally tracked down a street address for Mr. Denegar, two years ago. It appeared that he might still be living, though in his 90s. My long letter of gratitude was fulfilling to write. I felt and acknowledged that he had opened a rich and beautiful world to me, which had transformed my life. I mailed it off as a message in a bottle, never expecting it to reach him. When I received his long, tightly scripted reply, I was surprised and delighted. He was not only alive and well, but still teaching! Still boasting about his young students’ accomplishments. And very glad to hear of me and my brothers, and our various adventures in music and other careers.


Almost everyone has a teacher to thank. It is a marvel how the gift of beautiful teaching, even for a short time, can continue to fill us with gratitude decades after the fact. Your own children will recall this time, when their parents and their teachers worked together to keep them growing. They are grateful for little details you might overlook in your busy day:  the gleam of morning light onto your kitchen table, which brings that comforting sense of home. The delight of having their dog nearby, all day. The great relief of stepping outside to see the rainbow, or take in a breath of spring air. The reassurance of seeing their teachers face on the screen, still there for them.


Everyone from scientists to Benedictine and Buddhist monks tell us how good it is, to be grateful. To feel appreciation rise up and overflow into thanks. It’s good for our health, for our relationships, even for our digestion. We can’t be thankful for everything, certainly not for illness or loss. But, as David Steindl-Rast teaches, we can be grateful for our next breath.


Thank you, teachers! You transform a harrowing time into a memorable time. You create a feeling of stability and support that keeps us moving through our lives in this new reality. The energy and attentive effort you are bringing to this work is a force for good, and we are filled with gratitude for your dedication and persistence. Thank you parents! You are holding up the bridge. You are keeping us connected to you and to your children, and we are deeply grateful for the opportunity to keep teaching, through you. It’s teacher appreciation week. We appreciate all of you, probably more than you will ever know. But years from now…you might get a message in a bottle.


School Calendar

Here is the currently approved school calendar for 2020-21.  Our first day for students is scheduled for Wednesday, August 19.   We realize that there is some uncertainty as we set plans for the return of school in the fall.  Our top priority is always the health and safety of our students and staff.  We anticipate all schools, including ABS, will be operating with new procedures and policies as required by State and local health officials.  We will continue to keep you informed as we know more about those requirements and procedures.


Math Placement for 7th and 8th Graders

Normally, we share information about math placement for 7th and 8th grade students at this time of year. Because there is no end-of grade testing this year and we won’t be at school for spring MAP testing, we will need to alter how we place students in advanced math classes. We hope to offer an optional MAP test in June for rising 7th and 8th graders who are interested in trying to place into Math I in 7th and 8th grade. This will depend on the guidelines about public gatherings and social distancing. We will share more information as we are able to make decisions that will keep students and staff safe. 


Sad News

One of our ABS parents, Justin Hancock was killed over the past weekend in a tragic motorcycle accident .  His children, Jahari and Giana are in fifth grade and Jacorri is in first grade.   Our staff and students have been reaching out to the family to support them in this difficult time.  Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers.


ABS May Board Meeting

The ABS Board of Directors will convene the May Board meeting on May 12, 2020 at 5:45pm using a virtual meeting platform.   Board meetings are open to the public.  If you would like to view the meeting, please email Principal Hollis for the link. 

Staffing Update

Welcome to Katie Davis.  Katie is joining the EC team to provide speech services, partnering with Ellen Osswald.  Katie has worked with Speechcenter for almost 2 years and is a bilingual Speech-Language Pathologist who generally works with individual preschool patients in our clinic and in their homes and daycares.  Katie’s former position was in Tennessee where she worked in an elementary school for several years – she has all of the experience she needs to be very successful with the ABS students and families.  She and her husband live in Sherwood Forest in Winston-Salem. 


Parent Council News

Thank you ABS Families

It’s been a long and winding spring trimester for us all at ABS!  The Parent Council wants you to know that we share your struggle and recognize the tremendous effort you are putting into your student(s) as they continue “learning and loving it” from home. During this Teacher Appreciation Week, you have acknowledged our amazing ABS teachers, but we also want to recognize our ABS families. You stepped up to answer the call of at-home instruction, while juggling many other responsibilities at the same time. Wow- this is an amazing feat! With one month of school to go, we want to commend you all on a job well done and encourage you as we finish this school year strong! We are in this together! 

Parent Council Board Elections

We will delay PC Board nominations and elections until we are back to school this fall. 

We are seeking nominations for three positions: 1. PC board co-chair (2 year term),  2. Class rep coordinator (1-2 year term),  3. Secretary (1 year term). If you are interested in volunteering on the PC Board or have questions about any of these roles, contact Becky Dickson, rebeccapdickson@gmail.com or Sam Pearce  sampearce@triad.rr.com  or, you can add your interest or questions about this to our comment box (link below)

PC virtual meeting

We have considered hosting a PC virtual meeting before the end of the year. If you would like to leave us a comment about this and topics you would like to cover please fill out this survey in our comment box   You can also reach us at the emails above.


Deadline Today for Graduation Preparations

Today is the deadline for 8th graders to contribute to the virtual graduation ceremony. The ABS Middle School Specialists are crafting a commencement video. They are collecting 5-second sound recordings from each graduate, in which the student describes a favorite moment from their years at ABS. There should be no music or sound effects; only the student’s voice. 8th graders should send their sound recording to Ms. Engel at: aengel@artsbasedschool.com


Lunch Accounts

Any funds and charges that are currently on lunch accounts, will be moved forward to the 2020-2021 school year.  You will be able to retrieve your account status from Angela Garner, once the next school year has begun. 


Preparing for the End of the School Year

Here are some important dates as we work to complete the school year:

Mon, May 25 No School Memorial Day


Thurs, May 28 Last day for new assignments with distance learning.  Teachers will still be available to connect with and support students online until the last day of school, June 5.


Tues, June 2 All assignments due- Math I and Math II Grading decision due


Wed-Fri, June 3-5 Parent-Teacher conferences via ZOOM  Teachers will prepare and provide student narratives and offer end of year virtual conferences for parents.


Mon-Wed, June 8-10 Staff at school (following all health and safety guidelines) organizing rooms and preparing student items for pickup.


Thurs, June 11 Parent Drive Thru Pick up line to retrieve personal items  We are working on plans and logistics for families to retrieve their personal items from the school and to return school property such as library books and musical instruments.  Stay tuned for more information.


Fri, June 12 Alternate day for Parent Pick up in the event of rain.  


Classroom Placement

Your child’s current classroom teacher will meet with the grade level team to create the class rosters for the next year. They use all that they know about your child’s academic, social, emotional, and behavioral qualities to determine which classroom is the best match.  We do not accept parent requests regarding classroom placement.


If your child will not be returning to ABS for the 2020-2021 school year, please email Stephanie LeFever (slefever@artsbasedschool.com) with the name of the school your child will be attending so she can make sure your child’s school records are transferred successfully.


Yearbook Update 

We are getting close to selling out of our original order. If we do, there will be another order placed but those will be limited also. Ordering is open until May 15th so please order online soon. Orders can be placed by visiting the Strawbridge website at Strawbridge Studios – Professional Photographers and School Pictures 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.