ABS Thursday Notes- October 6, 2016

Thursday Notes                           

Published for the Arts Based School Community                                             October 6, 2016




No School- Columbus Day

Mon, October 10


How We Do It and Why

By Mary Siebert


“Energy and persistence conquer all things.” – Benjamin Franklin


During our second year, we moved into our MLK building; a hollow tobacco warehouse which had most recently been used as an airplane seat-cover factory. We shoved discarded furniture, appliances and equipment to the very back, and updated the front one-third, dubbing the up-fitted portion “Phase One.” We built the colorful arches, classrooms, slightly meandering hallways and center spaces with angular windows. The back two-thirds remained “rustic warehouse” until we grew enough to complete “Phase Two.” We built more classrooms and a music room, temporarily relocating the media center into the current lunchroom.

In those early years, we produced one annual “all-school production” with as many as 200 children in the cast. A few clunky platforms, cast-offs from the furniture market, served as a stage. The lighting was a couple of borrowed floodlights. Children’s voices could not be heard over the roar of the HV/AC, so we turned it off during performances, and audience and actors sweated together under the hot lights. Occasionally during a performance, a fuse would blow. The stage would go dark. One of us would tear down the fire escape, unlock the basement, and flip the switch while the audience and actors waited, and then…on with the show!

Like many theater people, we stayed up late painting backdrops and platforms and building props, scrounging materials, teetering on second-hand ladders. We built additional wooden platforms, and I learned what it meant to throw my back out. But unlike the addition of classroom space, which increases enrollment and with it, per-pupil income, improvements in a theater space would drain money from other areas without increasing revenue. Though we are a public school, we don’t receive school bond money for such improvements. So our updates skipped “Phase Three” and moved to the middle school expansion.

Still, our primitive efforts seemed to provide all of the fantasy and glamour our students could desire. We produced flying puppets, a telescopic mango tree, a wild west “soda shop” with swinging saloon doors, castles, cottages and cardboard picket fences, swanky adult fundraising auctions, and a contra-dance with 150 kids called by Carolina Chocolate Drops lead singer/fiddler Rhiannon Giddens, before she hit the big time. Parents were consistently supportive and appreciative. As we grew, so did the demands of our productions, which now include nine fully integrated shows with 50–60 children in each, and many smaller events for students.

One of our biggest fans is Alex Ewing. He was intrigued by my presentation at a Rotary Club luncheon, and subsequently served on our board. Mr. Ewing was Chancellor of the UNC School of the Arts for ten years, where he founded the School of Film Making. He was general director of the Joffrey Ballet, and his ballerina mother co-founded American Ballet Theatre. Even his grandson sang in The Magic Flute at The Metropolitan Opera. It is reassuring, that a man so steeped in great art believes in our little school.

Last spring, Alex Ewing gave ABS a generous financial gift to convert our warehouse space into a real black-box theater. This gift will dramatically contribute to our sustainability, not to mention the health of our backs and the quality of our productions. We threw ourselves into the upgrade last spring with hopes of opening in August. Our goals: easy functionality, improved sightlines for audience, reduction of noise, updated electrical, lights and sound, increased storage, and of course, safety.

Delays were not unexpected. After all, our building was originally designed for tobacco, not theatrics. The additional weight of tiered audience platforms and a steel grid for lights required redesigning of the supports below and above. That support work has begun at last. Meanwhile the roaring HV/AC has been silenced. A new dance studio has allowed instruction to continue, uninterrupted. We’ve recently been cleared to safely use the theater space in the meantime, for smaller events like rehearsals and single-class performances, but not yet for large productions or Friday Sing. Meanwhile, we will continue to employ energy and persistence, and look forward to the moment when we welcome students into “Phase Three” at last.


First Friday Sing

This month’s “First Friday Sing” will be delayed until next Friday, due to forecast of inclement weather.


Dixie Classic Fair Awards. Congratulations to The Arts Based School art teachers, Betsy Messick and Elizabeth Gledhill and their students! Our school was awarded “Judge’s Choice” at the 2016 Dixie Classic Fair, in our division. In addition, the following students were awarded ribbons:

K-5 Level

1st place – Alex Scriber

2nd place – Giavonni Griffin

3rd place – Evie Soriano

Middle School Level

1st place – Lauren Smith

2nd place – Zoe Marazita

3rd place – Nicholas Mayers


Parent Council News:

Parent Council Meeting Friday, October 14

Our next Parent Council Meeting will be held on Friday, October 14th in the MLK Building Cafe.  If you have agenda items for the meeting, please submit them to Lindsay Deibler (lindsaydeibler@gmail.com) or Julee Nunley (julee@thenunleys.net) by Friday, October 7.


Box Tops Collecton: Friday, October 14th

Please send in your Box Tops with your child on Friday morning, October 14th. Volunteers will be at the doors to both buildings to collect box tops. This is a simple way to support the school financially. Labels for Education are no longer continuing their program. There is a new Box Top App that families can download on your phone to make redeeming funds easy as well. Any questions please contact, Gwen Ashburn (gwendolyne.ashburn@gmail.com)



Skate Night  Thursday, October 13

Get ready to rock and roll! The K-Kids and Builders Clubs are sponsoring their first skate night next Thursday, Oct 13, from 6:30 – 8:00 p.m.  Skate Haven is located at 120 Hood Drive in Winston-Salem, and the cost is $5.00 per person, which includes the rental of skates. The theme is Crazy Hair.  Invite your friends and family, and let’s all roll into a great new year!


Book Fair Success!

Thank you ABS families for making our book fair this year a huge success! Our sales totaled $12,974.69, which is the most we have ever sold at the book fair! We also received an incredible and record-breaking amount of donations for the “All For Books” program, so thank you for your generosity! The students seemed to really enjoy the fair and we hope they are enjoying reading their new books. Also, a huge thanks to all of the parent volunteers, the book fair requires a lot of volunteers and ABS parents always step up to the plate!

Until next year… stay hooked on books!


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!


Fall Fest

Thanks to all the volunteers who worked hard to make it such a fun day with a special shout out to Emily Ball for coordinator it all!  We raised over $1,400 and all had a great time doing it!


ABS Garden Planting Day-October 15

Cooler weather means we can get back to planting the bank around the 7th Street parking lot with all the native species we have in store. Have you noticed how much the birds and butterflies love what is becoming of the campus? We even have a groundhog trying to ruin our vegetable gardens–not usually a welcome resident, but still pretty impressive in our corner of the concrete jungle.

Saturday, October 15, from 9 to 1, we will continue to clear out weeds and plant beautiful grasses and wildflowers on the bank.

Bring gloves, weeding tools, trowels, and cordless drills if you have them. We use them with a big auger bit to make holes for planting little plugs into. Also bring your kids, your snacks and water, plus as many friends and relations as you can muster.

RSVP and questions to Matt Mayers: mlmayers@gmail.com


Around Town…

FREE: Student Night! The Winston-Salem Symphony invites students of all ages attend FREE, open rehearsal of ODE TO JOY! BEETHOVEN’S NINTH at the Stevens Center on Friday, October 14, 7:00 – 9:30 p.m. Tickets are required for attendance. For more information or to secure your ticket contact the box office at 336-464-0145. Deadline for RSVP is TOMORROW, Friday, October 7.