ABS Thursday Notes- October 31, 2019

Thursday Notes                       

Published for the Arts Based School Community                          October 31, 2019


How We Do It and Why

Mary Siebert 


“It takes an athlete to dance, but an artist to be a dancer.” – Shannon LeFleur


When I need a lift, I watch one. I can get that elevation by watching 8th Graders rehearse their dances for “The Lion King,” repeating lifts and steps again and again. Dance rehearsals are visible to other students as they stride past on their way to the restroom, through the windowed garage doors of the dance/drama studio. The positive example set by 8th grade dancers, fully focused and rehearsing gracefully in respectful cooperation, cannot be over-stated.

The choreographer, visiting artist Thao Nguyen, is a graduate of UNCSA. He dances, sings, acts, teaches voice, and choreographs professionally around the area. When I first offered Thao this contract, I pointed out that, unlike a typical dance studio, our students are not all dancers who have paid for classes. They are public school kids of diverse backgrounds who, while they have danced together for years, do not all identify as dancers. He would need to choreograph according to the strengths of our individuals. He would not be choreographing a show, but choreographing children. Thao listened, then cheerfully and firmly replied that his positive energy would pull them all in. Truer words were never spoken.

Jan Adams, the K-4 dance teacher, prepared these students well for success. They are comfortable enough to work together with a new choreographer, risking error in front of their middle school peers. Years of movement, drama games, ballroom dancing, and acting together have given them confidence and fluency. Thao reports that he loves our students’ positive spirit. He says they are not afraid to try.

To make a grade-level-wide show possible, other staff must be dedicated, flexible, and enthusiastic. They flow with schedule changes designed to maintain an unchanged amount of time for math and science classes, while grouping appropriate characters together for rehearsal. Director Jordan Brown and music director Amber Allen find small moments to work with individuals and groups and rehearse full cast scenes on the facsimile of the stage we painted in the outdoor courtyard last year. They re-group and reschedule every day.

Meanwhile, back at dance class, Thao is coaching: “Enjoy that moment! Doesn’t that look pretty? Yeah it does, trust me. You’re like blades of grass, yes? Do it one more time, because it’s so beautiful it wrenches my heart.” He cues the music and they do it again, every one of them intent. From the students, I always hear that Thao has high expectations but also a sense of humor, he connects with them. It’s common to hear students say: “I would not do 100 sit-ups for just anyone, but I’ll do them for him. You just want to please him.” And:” He brings out an entirely new side of people.”

Middle school children learning to strive harder, support one another, prepare with rigor, take chances, reach goals, leap and trust. I love watching that lift.


The 5th grade Dancing Classrooms Exhibitions Next Week!

Join us in the Ewing Blackbox Theater in the MLK building of ABS. Each exhibition lasts about half an hour.

  •         Ms. Frazier’s class: 10:00 a.m. Tuesday, November 5
  •         Ms. Zayas’ class: 10:00 a.m. Wednesday, November 6
  •         Ms. Leni’s class: 10:00 a.m. Thursday, November 7


Lion King Performance

There will be one performance of Disney’s Lion King Jr. by the 8th Graders on Thursday, November 21 at 7:00 p.m., at First Presbyterian’s worship center. Save the date!


No Music, Drama, or Art Clubs During the Week of November 18.

Please make arrangements to pick up your art, music, or drama club student at regular dismissal time (2:45-3:00) during the week of November 18. Club teachers will be off-campus preparing for  Lion King.


Annual Giving

Today is the FINAL DAY of our Annual Giving campaign! We know how full everyone’s lives are, but there is still time to make your gift or pledge in support of ABS!

We extend our heartfelt gratitude to everyone who has contributed to date; thank you sincerely! After today, we will no longer send requests or reminders, but we will continue to gratefully accept your gifts and pledges.


As always, we are striving for 100% participation this year. Please help us get closer to our goal by making a gift today. Thank you!

Total School Participation to Date: 41%

Total Gifts to Date: $56,663


You can make a secure gift or pledge on our website: http://artsbasedschool.com/your-support/make-a-gift/



Picture Retakes

November 22  is picture make-up and retake day. Any student who was absent on picture day will automatically be photographed as these pictures are used for our annual yearbook. However, if you are interested in your child having his/her picture retaken, please send a note or email to your child’s homeroom teacher.  Students will only be sent for a retake if the parent sends in a request.



Conference Time is Coming

Soon your child’s teacher will be setting up conferences to discuss your child’s progress.  Students attending the Arts Based School are assessed using a portfolio system in place of the traditional report card.  The portfolio is designed to illustrate a student’s academic growth and successes as well as guide the teacher in planning appropriate instruction.  Teachers at ABS do not issue letter grades. Teachers use observation, interviews, analysis of student work and performance tasks to assess student understanding.  Examples of student work, as well as other objective standards of assessments are incorporated into the student’s portfolio to give an enhanced portrait of the student’s progress.  These portfolios will be discussed and presented to parents during the Student-Teacher-Parent conferences. Please be sure you schedule and attend your conference so that you can support your child’s learning. 

Conference Days- November 22- Early Dismissal

                     K-4 Dismiss at 11:45

                       5-8 Dismiss at 12 noon


Garden Workday

Join us for this month’s garden workday- Saturday, Nov 2,9am-12noon.  The forecast says chilly but dry, a lovely day to spend in the garden.



Happy Holidays

The holidays can be perplexing for American educators. The North Carolina Standard Course of Study (guidelines for what children should be taught at each grade level) specifies only first grade as a time for focusing on celebrated holidays and special days in communities, while nearly every other grade is expected only to discuss historical figures and practices associated with diverse holidays.  We respect the religious and cultural backgrounds of every student.

Holiday decorations are not used indiscriminately in the classroom or about the school; though they may be used as part of a focused study. We do encourage fun in learning and discovering.  We decorate our walls all year with the brilliant creations of our students. We often incorporate delicious receptions into our art openings and performances. We join together singing songs of peace and understanding. Thank you for supporting us in making every child feel included in the delights of learning together.



Dental Screening

A Forsyth County Public Health Department dental hygienist will be here on Thursday, November 14 to screen all students in grades K,3,5. If you do not want your child to be screened, please send a note or email your child’s teacher prior to the screening day.



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.



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.


ABS Family Volunteer Questionnaire

The Parent Council Board has received requests to improve the system we utilize to fulfill our volunteer commitment.

As a board, we have all completed varying amounts of volunteer hours per year. Work schedules, travel schedules, extracurricular activities, family schedules, etc. all take precious hours of our days. We understand that volunteering one hour per child per school week can be difficult at times.

Please take a moment to provide anonymous feedback. Your family will not be identified unless you choose to do so.

Thank you in advance!


Click here to fill out the questionnaire – https://forms.gle/3ACS9paWifeJTQ2y8.


ABS Tech Support Committee

We have an immediate need for a team of tech support volunteers. Do you or a member of your family have experience troubleshooting issues with laptops, servers, printers, software, phone systems, smart classroom products, or other electronic products used throughout the school? If you or a member of your family are interested, please contact Courtney Cashin, Tech Co-Chair on the ABS Parent Council Board at courtney.cashin@gmail.com.


Calling All Web Gurus

As we look at the ABS website, we would love the help of our families who have experience as a website developer, designer, or content creator. If you or a member of your family are interested, please contact Courtney Cashin, Tech Co-Chair on the ABS Parent Council Board at courtney.cashin@gmail.com.