ABS Thursday Notes – March 9, 2017

Thursday Notes                           

Published for the Arts Based School Community                                          March 9, 2017




How We Do It and Why

By Mary Siebert


“But soft! What light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.” – William Shakespeare, from Romeo and Juliet


To prepare for 5th grade’s complex production of Romeo & Juliet on the Border, students studied America’s Reconstruction via the western cattle drive era of the late 1800s, period folk and popular songs and dances from America’s west and Northern Mexico, cowboy poetry of the era, maps of cattle trails and biomes of the west, paintings and photos from the era, cattle trade economics, changing roles of women, influences of technology, and recognition of the mixed ethnic demographic of the original cowboys. (By most accounts, the rugged escorts of cattle across the prairies in the late 1800s were 20% African American, 10% Hispanic, and the majority of Caucasion cowboys were recent immigrants.)

Bob Moyer, founder of Shakespeare Lives! and former director of the UNCSA high school drama program, joined ABS teachers in introducing students to Shakespeare, the reconstructed Globe Theatre, and the timeless story elements of Romeo and Juliet.  Its clashing cultures, fear and intolerance of strangers, and the challenges of resolving differences and sustaining peace were recognized as immediate and current, even in a fifth-grade classroom.

ABS counselor, Amanda Sullivan, taught a lesson in which students considered how the story would have changed, if Romeo had called 9-1-1, and had used strategies for coping with depression or discouragement, such as seeking help from a grown-up or allowing time to pass before making a rash decision.

Director Heidi McIver introduced and choreographed complicated stage combat, while teaching students that violence in movies, TV and theater is just the opposite of real violence: safety is the number one concern. You always let your opponent know when you’re coming. You position yourself to prevent an actual strike. The “victim” is always in control, only giving the appearance of a struggle. Students learn never to perform these moves out of class, especially not in front of younger children who might then try it themselves. In this way, we learn about the inner workings of the power of media.

Shakespearean English was studied, its iambic pentameter, its clever names and insults and hidden rhymes. We translated it first into our own vernacular, and then into turn-of-the-century cowboy phraseology.  The original Shakespeare is preserved in heightened moments of emotion.  The Hispanic Arts Initiative helped develop the project, assuring cultural accuracy of music, dance, and costumes. Students write research papers, which are presented at the performance, about various topics pertinent to the era, and also write about their individual characters, developing a back story.

     The form and history of the Mexican song form, the corrido, was studied and adapted, its form introduced by Ms. Hunt in Spanish class. Our original corrido lyrics retell the story outlined within Shakespeare’s prologue.  Most of the songs in this production are historic American cowboy and northern Mexican folk songs from the late 1800s, with a few exceptions.

And the lovey-dovey stuff? All substitution. We call it “elephants and unicorns.” We ask students to imagine what surprise they could imagine waiting for them at home that would fill them with joy. They fling ideas: tickets to visit another country, their own horse, a sports car, a room full of cupcakes, an opportunity to bring peace to the world. One year, Juliet said that she’d like a unicorn. Romeo dreamt of an elephant. And so, when Romeo spies Juliet across the room for the first time, he does not think “what a beautiful girl!” because we are in 5th grade, and we don’t do that stuff yet. But he might think “Wait!…is that…a unicorn?” and he moves in closer, hoping that the unicorn might be just for him.

Performances of this 45-minute blockbuster are next Wednesday, March 15 and Thursday, March 16th at 7:00 p.m. at the Arts Council Theater, at 610 Coliseum Drive in Winston -Salem, 27106. Admission is free, and a free-will offering will be taken.


5th Graders Late Pick-Up on Monday and Tuesday

5th grade parents should plan to pick up students at 3:30 at ABS next Monday and Tuesday, allowing for an elongated rehearsal day at the theater. Wednesday’s pick-up will be at the normal time. Call times for 5th graders are 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday at The Arts Council Theater, 310 Coliseum Drive.







Hopefully by now you have all received information about our Annual Giving Campaign that kicked off last week!  If you haven’t heard from them already, you will be getting updates from your Class Reps each week on your classroom’s participation rates.  Our goal is to achieve 100% participation from all of our ABS families – we can’t do that without YOU!  All amounts are welcomed and appreciated.  Showing we have high participation rates from our families helps our school tremendously when we are applying for grants, so your participation truly counts!


We are excited to report that 92% of our ABS Board members have donated to our campaign as well!  The majority of these folks don’t even have children attending our school but they believe in and support our mission.  Please join us by making a donation today – THANK YOU for your support!


Click here to donate online:  https://mkt.com/the-arts-based-school/annual-campaign


ABS Garden Work Day, Sat, March 11, 9-1pm

With spring here, the weeds at ABS want to beat us in the race to the summer, but we will win! Come help keep your school looking good.  RSVP appreciated but not requied: Matt Mayers: mlmayers@gmail.com


Parent Council Meeting – March 17th- 

Our next meeting is Friday, March 17th, at 8:15am in the Cafe of the MLK Building. If there is a topic you want considered for discussion please submit topic by Friday, March 3rd. Contact Lindsay Deibler (lindsaydeibler@gmail.com) or Julee Nunley (julee@thenunleys.net)


Nominations for Parent Council Board

We will be accepting nominations for the Parent Council Board positions at the March Parent Council Meeting.  Please consider running for one of these positions or encourage another parent to do so.  Getting involved on the Parent Council Board is a great way to get more involved at ABS.  Following are the positions that make up the Parent Council Board.

Board Positions

Co-Chairs (only one position is open for election; 2 years)

Class Representative Coordinator (1 year)

Secretary (1 year)        

Hospitality Coordinators (2 positions; 1 year)

Technical Support Coordinators (2 positions; 1 year)

Annual Giving Coordinators (one position open for election; 2 years)

Upcoming Events

ABS Garden Workday

Sat, March 11, 9am – 1pm


4th, 6th – Attended Dress of Romeo and Juliet

Tue, March 14, 11:30am – 1:45pm

ABS Board Meeting

Tue, March 14, 5:45pm – 6:45pm


7th, 8th Attended Dress of Romeo and Juliet

Wed, March 15, 11:30am – 1:45pm


5th – Romeo and Juliet on the Border

Wed, March 15, 7pm – 8pm


5th – Romeo and Juliet on the Border

Thu, March 16, 7pm – 8pm


Parent Council meeting

Fri, March 17, 8:15am – 9:15am


African Drumming at ABS

Tue, March 21 – Thu, March 23


5th- Millis Health Center

Wed, March 22, 8:45am – 1:15pm


4th- Reynolda House

Thu, March 23, 9:15am – 11:15am