ABS Thursday Notes- September 19, 2019

Thursday Notes                       

Published for the Arts Based School Community                           September 19, 2019



How We Do It and Why

By Mary Siebert

“When the music changes, so does the dance.” – African Proverb


Dawanna Benjamin (visiting artist and 1st grade assistant teacher) performed a dazzling demonstration of African dance for first and second graders last week, along with two fellow dancers and two drummers. She introduced form and origins of the dance, showing students how some steps are descriptive of animals, how the dancers are barefoot, their balance close to the earth. Now she is visiting 2nd grade classes, teaching them the basics of African dance, and preparing dances that will become part of their story-telling.

Both dancers and drummers have impressed upon us that these two art forms are entwined, in African tradition. For Dawanna, it was especially desirable for us to include the drummer she works with most: Allen Boyd, of Greensboro. “I can’t explain it,” Dawanna told me, “He knows how I’m going to move before I move.” This kind of artistic partnership is especially valuable for us to share as an audience, because there are three beings present: the dancer, the drummer, and the magical communication between them.

Although students develop skills individually, our goal is to help them experience a fusion of drumming, dancing, and story-telling. We want to learn how to share in a synergistic relationship with our audience. Not the two-sided performance that occurs between actors on a screen and their distant audience, but the rich, authentic, in-the-moment sharing among the tellers and the listeners whose molecules share the same space.

When African stories appear in American children’s literature, they have already been changed beyond recognition not only because they have been translated, but also because they have been written down. How, then, are we to become familiar with a rich tradition like this when it is worlds away? How can we experiment with it ourselves? When ABS was visited by Tanzanian story-teller Tololwa Mollel years ago, he said his Maasai grandfather taught him that that listening is as important as telling. “There is no story without the listeners,” Mr. Mollel maintained. And yet, he writes his own stories down, because now he lives in Canada, and he would rather share them via books with western children, than not share them at all. Like he does, we use the best means available to us; we connect with artists who can help us, we explore, we hope to ignite curiosity.

With their classroom teachers, the students have been introduced to the African continent. They will create related visual art. They will soon begin developing a unique retelling of a story from Liberia. Ms. Heidi will welcome students into the storytelling by using “devised theater” techniques that draw them in as characters in the story, even as she is first telling it. We will experiment with drawing in the audience, with understanding that there is no story without them. And we will dance!


Save the Date! 2nd Grade Performances

Second graders will perform “The Cowtail Switch” with Ms. Dawanna and guest African drummers Allen Boyd and Bill Scheidt: all at the Ewing Blackbox Theater in our MLK building:


Ms. Warren, October 15, 12:15-12:45

Ms. Londoño, October 16, 12:15 – 12:45

Ms. Jess, October 17, 12:15 – 12:45



Stuart Gibbs Author Visit

ABS will host New York Times bestselling author, Stuart Gibbs, on Friday, September 20th. Stuart Gibbs has written the Spy School series, FunJungle series, and Moon Base Alpha series. His latest book is Charlie Thorne and the Last Equation. The ABS visit is limited to 5th and 6th grade students but everyone is welcome to see Mr. Gibbs at Bookmarks today at 4:30pm. The event is free and open to the public. 


BOG Results

Congratulations to our Third Grade students for completing the Beginning of Grade (BOG) test in reading last week. The state does not expect that all students will demonstrate proficiency on the BOG test because the content on the BOG is the same as what is measured on the EOG reading test administered at the end of the year.  On average, third grade students in North Carolina had a scale score of 432. Third grade students at ABS averaged a scale score of 439. A scale score of 439 indicates the student is “on-track” to demonstrate proficiency on the End of Grade Reading Test. Your child’s results are coming home today in Thursday packets in a sealed blue envelope.  If you have any questions about your child’s results, please contact your classroom teacher.


Flu Season

As you know, flu can be easily spread from person to person.  We are asking for your help in reducing the spread of flu at ABS.  The symptoms for the seasonal flu and H1N1 are the same: fever of 100 degrees or more, cough, sore throat, runny nose, body aches, headache, and feeling very tired.  Students with these symptoms will be sent home.

You can help us by taking these simple steps:

  • Teach children to wash their hands often.
  • Teach your children not to share food or drink.
  • Teach children to cough or sneeze into their elbows to avoid spreading germs.
  • Keep sick children home.
  • Children must be fever-free for 24 hrs before returning to school.
  • Get the flu vaccine for you and your children.



Last year we sold out of yearbooks! Make sure you have your copy by ordering online today! Online orders can be placed 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.


ABS Book Fairs

The Scholastic Book Fairs are coming!!  This year we will have a separate week to devote to the each book fair-

7th St Book Fair will be Tuesday Sept. 24-Saturday Sept. 28

MLK Book Fair will be Saturday Sept. 28- Friday Oct. 4

Both Fairs will be open during Fall Fest on Saturday Sept. 28.

We NEED YOUR HELP! Please sign up to volunteer!! This is a really fun opportunity to get volunteer hours during the school day and during Fall Fest.

Please visit the links below to volunteer, sign up for E-Wallet account*, see fair schedule, view book fair flyer, or shop our online book fair

The 7th St. Book Fair link: https://www.scholastic.com/bf/artsbasedschool58

MLK Book Fair link: http://www.scholastic.com/bf/artsbasedschoolk4

*Set up an E-wallet account so your student can shop the Fair cash-free.  If you have multiple children, you must create a separate account for each child, be sure to use the correct fair link.

Every purchase you make at the book fairs earns money towards new books for ALL CLASSROOM libraries and BOTH SCHOOL LIBRARIES! More than half of all dollars spent at the book fairs goes directly to purchase books for the school!


Parent Social: Save the date Friday September 27th

Next Friday head over to Wise Man after school to connect with other parents and caregivers.  Everyone is welcome! Snacks and Games for kids. Drop by from 3-5!


Fall Festival- September 28th- Volunteers

Time to get excited for family fun at the ABS Fall Fest on Saturday, September 28th from 12:00 to 3:00 held at the 7th Street building and courtyard! Meagan Robinson & Becky Dickson Fall Fest Coordinators, are working on planning a great event.   Sign up to volunteer here:  Fall Festival at Arts Based School


PE Request

Coach Bri is looking for more hula hoops and pool noodles.  If you have some to donate to the PE program please drop them off at the 7th St front desk.  Thanks!


Go Hog Wild – Join us for some BBQ!

The Kiwanis Club of Winston -Salem helps support our Builders Club and K- Kids student programs each year at ABS. Show your appreciation and support by attending their annual Hog Wild BBQ this Saturday, September 21, from 11:00-2:00 at the College Park Baptist Church -1701 Polo Rd. Winston-Salem, NC. You can enjoy both sit-down meals or take out by the pound. 


Children’s Book Drive to help fellow North Carolinians!

Builders Club Book Drive September 23-28 (School aged children’s books)  Many schools in eastern North Carolina are still working hard to rebuild their libraries after Hurricane Florence last year and recently, Hurricane Dorian. We have paired with a Kiwanis group in Eastern NC to help stock local school libraries. Please donate new or gently used books to our Builders Club Bookdrive. Donation bins are located in Ms. Gledhill’s art room and are available for dropoff through Fallfest. Thank you!


Around Town:

Salem Bach Festival, with Magnolia Baroque musicians, presents a FREE concert of music by Bach and his predecessors this Sunday, September 22, at 3:00 at Home Moravian Church in Old Salem.