ABS Thursday Notes- October 10, 2019

Thursday Notes                       

Published for the Arts Based School Community                          October 10, 2019



How We Do It and Why

By Mary Siebert


“Anyone can fly. All you need is somewhere to go that you can’t get to any other way. The next thing you know, you are flying among the stars.” – Faith Ringgold, from Tar Beach


I saw a post from a Facebook friend who mentioned “Bee Bucks;” a reward system at her children’s school. You earn Bee Bucks by being kind, empathetic, responsible…and then you can spend them on stuff like pencils and candy. I expressed dismay that the school (an “International Baccalaureate” program in the Northwest,) would use this monetized approach to teaching compassion. How well has that worked in our adult world? Where is the depth of learning about this critical set of skills?


First graders at ABS are engaged in a progressive exploration of self, family, and community, with experiential and literature-based lessons introducing the city of Winston-Salem as their own ever-changing and growing city. We teach NC state-required goals about change over time, geographic representations and terms, the interaction of humans with the environment and local community through this study. We also aim for the students to feel that this is their town. According to first grade teacher Kathie Fansler, one of the most powerful and challenging lessons that this study provides is perspective.


Students consider and discuss the Three Little Pigs as architects who chose diverse building materials. They ask themselves the following questions:


Q: What is an architect?

Q: Why was the third pig the most successful architect?

Q: How could the third pig have made her house even stronger?

Q: What are the properties of good building materials?

Q: Why did the third pig have to work so much harder to make her house?


Like the Three Little Pigs, our town’s architects thought about form, function and materials. First graders look at buildings in Winston-Salem, identifying and evaluating the materials our builders chose. They visit Old Salem and notice how the old buildings were constructed in the 18th century. They learn the names and identifying characteristics of the Winston-Salem skyline, in our modern downtown. They take a downtown walking tour and think about the building materials needed for a skyscraper compared to the materials needed in Old Salem.


There is a rich opportunity embedded in this study for encountering multi-layered versions of perspective. Students draw maps of the classroom, considering how the room looks from above, compared to ground view. As they walk from our school to downtown, they notice the skyscrapers above them. They ride an elevator way up high and look down over their city, to compare how the perspective changes.


They read together Faith Ringgold’s “Tar Beach”, and examine her story quilt of the same name; a view of family and friends on a city roof, from the perspective of a young girl flying above them. In art, they draw and color the Winston Salem skyline, and add luster using bright colors. These are their own buildings now, and they can name each one. Like Cassie Louise, the protagonist in Tar Beach, they might say “Now I have claimed it. All I had to do was fly over it, for it to be mine forever.”


For Ms. Fansler and the other first grade teachers, there is a powerful connection to values of personal character and integrity through this study of perspective. “This is an abstraction for them, which is hard,” says Ms. Fansler. “But it connects to empathy, compassion, and social interaction.” Studies of art, architecture, our city long ago, our city now, literature. Imagining “How does it look from someone else’s point of view?” In class meetings where social problems are solved together, these varied experiential approaches help us see and experience why empathy is important. Seeing their own personal artistic city portraits displayed on the wall is a richly rewarding reminder of these lessons. Better than “Bee Bucks!”


Annual Giving!

We are truly grateful to everyone who has made a gift to the Annual Giving campaign so far! Thank you!

Total School Participation to Date: 16%

Total Gifts to Date: $12,275

This week, we wanted to thank you all for just one of the many things that your Annual Giving support enabled last year: a class set of violins for the K-4 music program. Last year, thanks to your support through the Annual Giving campaign, we were able to teach introduction to violin to 100% of ABS fourth graders. That program continues, teaching this year’s fourth graders that making a beautiful sound is the result of attention and practice—not raw talent—and each student has the ability to learn these skills. This was and is a great example of the discipline required of an artist—and of the very real power of our collective giving.


We’ve only just begun, and yet we only have two-and-a-half weeks left in this year’s Annual Giving campaign! Please participate! Making a recurring monthly gift is an excellent way to maximize your gift to ABS, as is sharing the call to action with your extended family and friends. 


ABS depends upon the generosity of parents, board members, and our community to support the learning and creating that happens here every day. We take particular pride in our ability to stretch our limited resources, so you can trust that your contribution, no matter the amount, will be a significant benefit for our school and our students.


We ask all parents for financial support just once each year. Please give as generously as you are able. Return your envelope today! If you prefer to make a secure gift online, visit:



2nd Grade Performances Next Week!

Second graders will perform “The Cowtail Switch” next week with visiting artists Dawanna Benjamin, Allen Boyd, and Bill Scheidt. All performances are in the Ewing Blackbox Theater in the MLK building of ABS, at 12:15. The show lasts about 30 minutes.

Ms. Warren’s Class, Tuesday, October 15, 12:15

Ms. Londoño’s Class, Wednesday, October 16, 12:15

Ms. Jess’s Class, Thursday, October 17, 12:15



Fair Ribbon Winners

Congratulations to ABS artists who won ribbons at the fair!

1st Place: K-4, Lena Phillips. 5-8 Genevieve Davis

2nd Place: K-4 Ella Nochajski. 5-8 Ardriana Gray

3rd Place: K-4 Vera Byers, 5-8 Sam Spach


Picture Day-October 16

Smile!  October 16 is Picture Day!  All students will be photographed to be included in the school’s yearbook.  Proofs will be sent home along with information if you would like to order.


Attendance Reminder

Consistent school attendance is an essential component of each student’s academic growth and progress.  As a public school, we are required to record and report excused and unexcused tardies and absences daily.  Please notify the office when your child is expected to be absent. When your child returns to school, he/she must bring a note explaining the reason for the absence, dated and signed by a parent or guardian.


TARDINESS-School begins at 8:15 a.m.   Students may arrive at school between 7:45 and 8:10.  Please do not “drop off” your child before 7:45am.   Children should stay in your vehicle until the doors are unlocked at 7:45am.

Students will be counted tardy if they’re not in their classroom at 8:15am. The student entrance will be locked at 8:15 a.m. After 8:15 a.m., parents must park and escort their child(ren) to the Front office entrance and sign in. Ten tardies are considered one absence on state attendance records.

Please help your child have a successful school year by being at school on time each day!


Parent Council Meeting- This Friday 8:15

The Parent Council will be meeting tomorrow, October 11th, at 8:15am in the MLK Cafe. All ABS families and caregivers are part of the Parent Council and invited to attend these meetings. And don’t forget that attendance counts towards volunteer hours!  The agenda for this meeting is here.


Child Care will be available on the playground. If you would like to help with this please email Becky rebeccapdckson@gmail.com


Parent Social- This Friday after PC meeting

Head over to Moji after the PC meeting this Friday to connect with other parents and caregivers. Everyone is welcome!


Want to be an Assistant Principal for a Day?

It’s time to purchase your raffle tickets to give your child a chance to be Assistant Principal of the Day! Yes, your child (of any grade level) can serve as Principal Hollis’ Assistant for an entire day! Assistant Principals have their own desk, name tag, and list of “Principal Duties” for the day! Simply stop by either front office and purchase your raffle tickets today ($1/ticket, $5 for 6 tickets). All proceeds from the raffle support our Hospitality fund and allow us to do special things for our staff throughout the year.  Name will be drawn at First Friday Sing each month.



Last year we sold out of yearbooks! Make sure you have your copy by ordering today! Orders can be placed by filling out the order form that was sent home in last week’s Thursday notes, or by visiting the Strawbridge website at http://www.strawbridge.net/ 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.


Salem Academy Visit

A representative from the Salem Academy Office of Admissions will be on campus on October 29th. Any interested 7th and 8th grade girls may bring their lunch to the meeting at 11:45 to listen to the presentation and ask questions. Parents will be invited to High School Information Night later this year and can ask their own questions at that time (details to be shared at a later date). 


ABS Garden Workdays

Beautiful weather means relaxing days in the garden. Come out to help with some planting and garden clean up around the school. We’ll be there October 12th, 8:30-11:30

Rain date: Oct 26th, 8:30-11:30

. RSVP appreciated but not required to kristen@rootsfirst.com.


Prospective Parents’ Tours

School tours for prospective parents are scheduled weekly on Thursdays at 9:30am.  Each tour is limited to 10 adults in an effort to limit the disruption to our students and teachers in the classrooms.  Parents interested in learning more about ABS and how to enroll their child, should contact the front office to sign up for a tour. 748-4116 ext 1023.  Applications will be accepted beginning January 1. The lottery will be held the second Tuesday of February.


Halloween is Coming

Please do not send students to school in costumes.  We all enjoy the fun and excitement of Halloween but find that costumes and accessories make it very difficult to concentrate.  Also we do not want students to bring candy in their lunch bags for snacks. Although it can be delicious, high sugar snacks should not replace a healthy snack.  Thanks for your help!


Positive Discipline Workshop for Parents

October 26

-Ever wonder why your child listens so well in school but you have trouble getting him to even brush his teeth at home?

-Frustrated that you raise your voice more than you’d like to?

-Finding your previous discipline strategies no longer work with your new middle-schooler?


If you answered yes to any of these questions, then this workshop is for you!  Join us for an interactive workshop with Principal Robin Hollis as she takes us through the strategies behind the Positive Discipline practices used by ABS staff members.  The same effective principles found in the classroom can be beneficial in your home as well! Find out how you can apply positive discipline at home today and provide wonderful continuity for your child each day.  The workshop will be tailored to meet the age appropriate needs of those that register.

WHEN:  Saturday, October 26  from 9am-Noon

WHERE:  ABS Café, MLK Building

CHILDCARE:  Childcare will be provided on site (please let us know how many children will need care when you sign up)

COST:  $10/family

SIGN-UP:  Email Robin Hollis (rhollis@artsbasedschool.com) to sign up today.  You may send in payment with your child in a marked envelope (checks should be made out to ABS).  You may also stop by either front office to sign up as well. Space is limited so reserve your spot today!