Thursday Notes – January 22nd, 2015


How We Do It and Why

By Mary Siebert


“Act well in your part: there all the honour lies.” – Alexander Pope


Whenever we do a production in the upper grades, there are typically a few students who let me know that their favorite place to be is backstage, working “tech.” Often these are students who enjoy theater as an art form, but are uncomfortable on stage, perhaps a little shy, and who work up the courage to come to me directly and request this support position. It’s an important moment; a young person identifying what they want to do, what they like best, how they would like to contribute. While I feel happy about this important turning point, I look very seriously into that little face. “You’ll have to earn this position,” I say. “You’ll have to show me that I can rely on you every moment during rehearsal. You have to learn the entire show, not just one part. You have to be the one I know I can count on. If a tech person forgets to do their job or starts goofing around back stage, the whole show can be ruined. Everyone relies on you.” They nod solemnly. They have heard this before.

Most students who are attracted to a tech job are good at it, and it can be the factor in helping them develop strength in personal responsibility and generosity. The prospect of being honored with a back-stage job is so attractive that they catch themselves, when they see me glance their way if they chat during rehearsal, and they stop abruptly. They learn to notice what others need, and to provide for those needs in advance.

I’m not inventing this, of course. The show really does rely on offstage or “off-camera” artists. Like the humble metal foundations of a splendid glass skyscraper, tech people make the magic possible. Sometimes they even provide the magic altogether, and the star performer is a location for them to light, film, edit, and polish. Think of famous pop stars who really have little talent, but whose producers, make-up and hair artists, designers, sound engineers, lighting designers, graphic artists, film editors, and backstage managers create an attractive image. Performing arts move past entertainment and into something profound when all of the players, foreground and background, are artists who care deeply about their work.

If you are an ABS parents and you haven’t met Claire O’Boyle yet, you will. She does not frequently act as the public face of the school, but she is the backstage magic. Her title is “Production Manager”, and we do more productions at ABS than a typical repertory theater. Claire sets up Friday Sing, and packs it away so dance class is ready on Monday. She shows the movies, sets up the lights, and often brings her own ABS alumni children to sell concessions at special functions. She is my liaison with theater managers, museum curators, visiting artists, resident artists, and volunteer parents. She is positive and cheerful and reliable. She works every show from before the doors open until it is “put to bed” and has been backstage for every one of them, even when her own children were on stage.

The most intricate demand required of her is perhaps scheduling. Since our productions are integrated into grade level curriculum, we rehearse during the school day. With nine major productions and many more minor ones during a year (band concerts, visiting poets, operas, African drummers, dancers, plays, science fair, spelling bee, January Jam, Fall Festival, Community Creates, etc.) and only one large rehearsal/performance space, Claire schedules rehearsals into every crevasse of time and space in the school. She dodges around math, science, field trips, swimming, and MAP tests, and weaves a complex series of progressive appointments that lead, eventually, to the rich performances our students, staff, and parents treasure. We don’t consider what we’d be without her…it’s bad luck to think about it.


Congrats to ABS Science Fair Winners


1st place – Everly Nolte

2nd place – Win Greenwood

First Grade

1st place – Ellie Scott

2nd place – Beckett Silkstone

3rd place- Cambria Rheinschild

Second grade

1st place – Mac Greenwood

2nd place – Hudson Asbury

3rd place – Myla Calhoun

Third grade

1st place – Zion Hairston

2nd place- Clara Silkstone

3rd place- Sofia Ekstein

Fourth grade

1st place – Gavin Deibler

2nd place – Eli Calhoun

3rd place – Sophie Ball-Dolan

Fifth grade

1st place – Jonathan Daw

2nd place – Kendyl Shaughnessy

3rd place – Krista Naujoks

Sixth grade

1st place – Amelia Bowman

Seventh grade

1st place- Marley Priest

2nd place – Roman Robinson

3rd place – Mara Kessler

Eight grade

1st place – Maya Piper

2nd place – Adria Faulkner and Grace Gould

3rd place – Nick Sullivan


January Jam Success!

Many thanks to all our wonderful volunteers and staff members that helped make January Jam such a success!  We raised almost $2,000 for our school – thank you so much for your support!



Box Tops Collection Tomorrow!
Time to start clipping and counting! Please bring in your Box Tops TOMORROW –  Friday, January 23, for our next school-wide collection day.  Box Tops may be turned in at both buildings.  Last year we made a record $1,100 in Box Top collections, and this year we hope to bring in at least that much to benefit students and programs at ABS!  Here is a link to a list of products that have Box Tops: .  Please keep sending in Campbell’s Labels for Education as well.  Thank you!


Inclement Weather

In the event of inclement weather, ABS will announce school closings on local TV channels, under “The Arts Based School”.  This information will also be posted on the ABS website (


8th Grade Visitor

Javier Chacon, Senior Vice President at HanesBrands Inc. in charge of Global Operations, is coming to talk with our 8th grade on Tuesday, February 3rd at 9:45. We are surprised and honored that Diana Greene was able to capture a moment of his time for her “Manufacturing Economies” project.


School Skate Coming Up

K-Kids will sponsor a  Skate Night at  Skate Haven (120 Hood Drive, W-S, NC) on Tuesday, Jan. 27, from 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. K-Kids is sponsoring this all-school event to raise money for the many charities they support. Bring $5.00 per person for entry and skate rental.  All ABS families are welcome!


Mad Science starts Mon., 1/26

Flyers went home last week in Thursday Packets.


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.

Get the flu vaccine for you and your children.