Thursday Notes – April 30th, 2015

How We Do It and Why

By Mary Siebert


“Beauty is only skin deep; but ugly goes clean to the bone.” – Dorothy Parker


The first graders are in rehearsal, each preparing a version of the Cinderella story, which will be accompanied by a cultural study in the classroom.  Cinderella stories have been invented or adapted in many cultures worldwide, and the watered-down Disney version we know is a distant relative of some of these richer stories. The comparison allows us to recognize similar elements within each tale, while noticing cultural similarities and differences. For example, the Chinese version (said by some to be the oldest known version,) involves magic fish bones, the Italian version involves a magic bird, and the Indian version a magic snake. No fairy godmothers. The characters vary too: Cinderella in the Italian story is clever and tough; her stepfather defends her right to be unique.

The first grade show transitions children from the simple “follow the leader” structure in Kindergarten, when each character followed a UNCSA dancer through the story for emotional and recall support on stage. With an interactive adult narrator, first graders respond as individuals to prompts and questions, sometimes speaking lines, depending on individual development. The cast will change in each of the seven scenes, allowing for many lead players. There are no scripts to memorize, avoiding the stilted “anti-acting” that typically occurs at the elementary school level, and encouraging thoughtful observation and listening while on stage. It’s challenging to remain in character while on stage; to differentiate between the actors and the audience, to understand that it’s best not to reach up your shirt to scratch an itch or wave to grandma while you are on stage. Here are some of the ways we approach these learning opportunities.

We define “upstaging” as bad manners, learning to give focus to the storyteller. Students try intentional upstaging, with one child telling the story seriously, while another attempts to grab the audience’s attention from behind. Later, we can gently remind an actor that she is “accidentally upstaging” if she suddenly ties her shoe during a scene. There is a moment of realization, and the child makes a different choice without further direction.

We work in the classroom to help students feel the script coming from their own understanding of the story, its characters, and the character’s feelings and actions. As a result, much of the dialog arises spontaneously. One of our all-time favorite kid–generated lines occurred when the prince, wishing to discover whether Cinderella’s shoe matches the one he found, asks “May I see her? Maybe just a leg?” When we capture “good ideas” and save them to the play, kids recognize their own creativity in the process and gain confidence in writing.

We also examine the stereotypical characters, agreeing that beauty is something that runs much more deeply than surface appearance, that none of us are bullies, but we can identify their characteristics and act “as if” we were bullies, that most step-parents (like me) love their step-children, and that girls need not marry someone powerful in order to be powerful themselves.


First Grade performances of “Three Cinderellas” will take place in the ABS backspace as follows:

Ms. Howard: Wednesday, May 11, 12:15 – 12:45

Ms. Jarvis: Thursday, May 12, 12:15 – 12:45

Ms. McArthur: Friday, May 13, 12:15 – 12:45


Annual Giving Campaign

It’s week TWO of our Annual Giving Campaign and we’re off to a great start!


TOTAL SCHOOL PARTICIPATION 11% (up from 5% last week)



Hopefully by now, you’ve each heard from a parent representative in your child’s classroom.  These folks are not there to harass you, but simply to serve as a resource for your class during this very important effort.  Many parents and community members are not aware that Charter Schools do not receive the same funding as a traditional public school.  We’re also not a private school, so we charge no tuition to attend.  The combination of lower funding and no tuition causes a bit of a double whammy in the budget department!  To bridge that funding gap, we must raise those dollars ourselves.  We have vowed not to ask our children to sell wrapping paper, candles or cookie dough multiple times a year but we do ask, once a year, for our families to support us in any way that is suitable for their situation.

You may wonder where the dollars from other fundraising events held during the year go – things like Fall Festival, January Jam or Movie Afternoons?  Those dollars go back to the school as well, but under a different budget line.  The Parent Council is given a target amount to raise for the school each year and those events help support that effort.  Larger events, such as Community Creates, go to support specific programs within our school.  100% of the proceeds from Community Creates go toward funding of our Artist-in-Residence programs.  That means people like Mr. Bill, who teaches our children African Drumming.  Or Diana Greene who works with the kids on their amazing photo journalistic “My Inside Outside Self” project in the 4th grade.  The list goes on and on.

It’s important to have a general understanding of how our school funding works so you realize just how important you are in this process.  If you think your participation won’t matter or what you contribute won’t make a difference – you’re wrong.  Every single dollar counts – just as every single child in our school counts.  What matters now is that you participate, in any way you can, so we can achieve our goal of 100% participation.  We can’t do it without you.

Thank you so much for your consideration and participation!


Notes from the Front Office

There are a limited amount of class pictures available for sale $10 in the front office if you missed ordering one.

Activity Fees for the year are due; if you have not paid please do so with Angela Wise.


Got tickets? 

Don’t miss Community Creates!-May 2, 2015, 7-11p.m.  Tickets are available for purchase $40 per person online at until Friday at 3pm, in the front office at the MLK building, or at the event.  Questions?  Call or email Claire O’Boyle 336-748-4116 ext. 1029,


Notes from Parent Council

Box Top Collection Day:  Friday, May 8

It’s time to check your pantries for box tops. Our final collection day for this year is next Friday!


Parent Council Meeting and Elections:

The final meeting of the year and the elections for Parent Council Board will be held Friday, May 8 from 8:15 to 9:15 in the Teacher’s Resource Room in the MLK Building.


Around Town…

Join the ABS team for Hammerbird 5K May 9. Click on the link below to register for the race.  Our group name is the Arts Based Sports Club group.


UNCSA Preparatory Dance Program Auditions

UNCSA is holding auditions for rising 3rd-5th graders on Saturday, May 9th from 10-11am (registration 9:30-10am).  For more information or to download the registration form, visit