Thursday Notes – March 12th, 2015

How We Do It and Why

Mary Siebert


Those jobs won’t be coming back: The Bureau of Labor Statistics says the three occupations that will lose jobs the fastest (on a percentage basis) from 2008 to 2018 are in textiles. The bureau expects textile and apparel manufacturing jobs will drop 48% to 259,000 from 2008 to 2018.” – Paul Wiseman, USA Today, 3/11/2010


Manufacturing Economies”: Diana Greene’s Residency with 8th Grade

Diana Greene is a multi-faceted and accomplished local artist who works professionally in the fields of writing, photography, and documentary film-making. Documentary film is the perfect synthesis of photography and writing, especially for Ms. Greene, who delights in focusing her audience’s attention on seemingly tiny details; frayed edges, sidelong glances, momentary worries that carry with them the weightiest questions and the most ethereal of pleasures- fleeting glimpses that represent both the ephemeral and the eternal.

Ms. Greene is also an accomplished artist-educator, having received scores of grants to encourage her continued work with school-children in our region. ABS fourth-graders have worked with her for over ten years. This year, she brings her considerable body of experience and intensive inquiry to 8th grade. Partnering with Peter Wilbur, an ABS music teacher who is also a recognized visual artist and burgeoning film maker, Ms. Greene has spent the past two months urging professional quality interview and research processes from the students. The students inquire into the history of the textile industry in our region, its impact on the economy of our state and the nation, and in reverse: the changing national economy and its impact on our community, with the goal of assembling this material into a high quality documentary film.

In the words of Peter Wilbur: “The point of the project is to synthesize MANY sources, including archival footage and photos, note taking, internet research, first-hand presentations by major figures in the textile industry, a film screening with a noted documentary film maker, and a visit to an exciting, forward-thinking textile plant. In addition, many classroom hours have been spent by the entire grade reading, watching film clips, and discussing relevant aspects of economics and history.” In addition, students develop technological skills to manipulate and share material, using Dropbox, Google docs, and Vimeo.

Documentary film-making is a powerful art form which relies heavily on accurate research. The goal is not to teach the techniques of handling a camera or editing film, although our 8th graders were introduced to those skills in 6th grade, and some of the footage is shot by students, as are the still shot photos. The time-intensive process of editing is left to paid professionals. Instead, the format of film is the artistic medium through which students inquire and share the results of inquiry in a real-world setting, at real-world professional standards.

In direct relation to the textiles focus, students have worked with textile artist (and teacher at Salem College) Gillian Morrow, who taught about the chemistry of fabric dyes in science class with Ms. Dickson. Students “adopted” an element to be used as a mordant (the chemical that serves as fixative for dye into fabric). Synthetic mordant is responsible for the bulk of pollution issues in dye manufacturing, an issue to be examined later. Students then experimented with the varied results in the lab. Ms. Morrow is also a visiting artist in art class, where students are creating personal weaving projects, soon to be on display.

In language arts with Ms. Martin, students listened to and analyzed the lyrics of traditional, authentic weave room folk songs of North Carolina; primary sources of reflection by mill workers of the early 20thcentury. They also designed their interview questions for accomplished executives in the textile industry, such as Javier Chacon, Vice President for Global Marketing for Hanes Brands, Inc., who visited to speak with them about outsourcing. The ongoing study of outsourcing includes studies of geography and creation of pie charts in math class with Ms. Hutchison, representing the percentages of nations represented by manufacturing of clothing worn daily by students. This data is collected during a “fashion tag show” where students check their clothing tags for nation-of-manufacture. Students are now working with Ms. Greene and Ms. Martin to craft voice -over commentary for the film, pulling together all they have learned. Drama teacher Mr. Zayas will coach on-camera and voice-over reporting skills as the film is shot by Mr. Wilbur, and the whole collection will be professionally edited for a final project to be shared on Thursday, March 26th at 6:00 at the ABS MLK backspace.

By comparison, the HAG 8th grade program in Winston-Salem assigns a project in which students independently interview one person whose career interests them. They write a one-page report about the interview, and turn the paper in for a grade. I think we hit it out of the park on this one, folks, before we’ve even seen the movie.


8th Grade Film Premiere Date CHANGED

The premiere of Manufacturing Economies, the 8th grade documentary film about the interactions of the global economy and the North Carolina textile industry, will take place at the ABS MLK Backspace Theater on Thursday, March 26 at 6:00 p.m.


Parent Council Meeting Tomorrow!

Please join us at 8:15 am in the Teacher Resource Room of the MLK Building for our March Parent Council meeting.  Principal Hollis will share results of the mClass and MAP winter testing.  A full meeting agenda is attached to this week’s notes.  Hope to see you there!


Parent Satisfaction Survey

Yes, that’s you – we want to know what you think!  Please follow the link ArtsBasedSchoolsurvey  to a 20-question online survey about our school.  Your responses are completely anonymous and help us determine what’s working well and what needs more work!  Please take a few minutes to complete and submit.  Thank you!


Get Ready to Jump!

The K-Kids are sponsoring “Jump Rope for Heart” to benefit the American Heart Association. Our event will be held on Friday, March 27. This is a great opportunity to learn about heart health and help the cause of heart research. Please look at the letter in today’s Thursday packets.


Read to Feed a Great Success!

Many thanks to all of you who read books to help people around the world. We have raised over $700. If you still have money outstanding, please get it in by Monday, March 16.


Community Creates!

If you would like to help with this ABS fundraising event or know of an artist that would like to paint an 8 x 10 canvas, please contact Claire O’Boyle at  Save the date- Saturday, May 2 for the auction!


Garden Work Day

Saturday, March 21   9:00 to 1:00

The next outdoor work day at ABS is sponsored by the Builders Club (Kiwanis affiliated service group for middle schoolers). Show your support for our service-oriented students by helping them move mulch to bare spots on the MLK playground, prune trees, and clean up garden areas.   RSVP appreciated but not required. Matt Mayers ( or 723-7189)