Thursday Notes – September 4th, 2014

How We Do It and Why

By Mary Siebert


What researchers are beginning to discover is that singing is like an infusion of the perfect tranquilizer, the kind that both soothes your nerves and elevates your spirits.” – Stacy Horne, Time Magazine, 2013


When we are reminded of the importance of learning about technology and the changes it brings to communities, most of us think immediately about computers, social media, iPads, and the rapid innovations of the Information Age. However, for our students at ABS, we push much further back. Sixth graders will soon be studying the development of technology that allowed humans to transform stone and clay into shaped tools, and how these vessels and weapons transformed the ancient world. Spinning, weaving, farming, telescopes, the printing press, medical research, all of this is technology that caused dramatic change. In fourth grade, we will focus later this year on the life-changing technology of radio. Before radio, Americans shared folk songs by gathering on the front porch with instruments, voices, and a heart full of songs and stories. Every story changed as it passed from one storyteller to the next. Every singer sang a distinctly unique version of each song. Even before current research that proved the physiological and psychological benefits of singing together, folks in this region were unknowingly reaping those benefits. The delights of shared singing faded from our culture when radio brought us recordings by master performers. We thrilled to those sounds and quickly began to view the popular versions as the “only” versions. There is a bittersweet side to much of this progress. Just as we lost flavor and nutrition and the joy of the harvest when we moved away from locally grown foods to industrially produced groceries, we lost variety and health benefits when we stopped singing together and allowed the radio to sing for us. In the spirit of the local farmer’s market, ABS students sing together.  We sing in the classroom. We sing in the music room with Mr. Wilbur. We sing in harmony in the 5th grade show, sing in the 6th grade movie, sing a whole opera in 7th grade, (8th grade traditions are still being built.) We memorize facts by singing, and at K-4 we gather together once every month to sing folk songs, raising our voices in unique ABS arrangements of music that will last a lifetime. This tradition of “Friday Sing” is our own “back porch.”  Tomorrow, K – 4 will join in song from 2:00 – 2:30 at our first Friday Sing of the year. These monthly “First Friday” gatherings are sometimes punctuated by student performances of curricular songs. Parents are welcome to join us, and are asked to sing along too.


5th – 8th Graders: Bring Those Band Instruments!

ABS takes musical literacy very seriously. All 5– 8th graders at ABS are required to bring their band instruments to school twice weekly. When your child leaves their instrument at home, they fall behind just as if they regularly miss math instruction, or miss a deadline for a project or homework assignment. This causes stress and anxiety for your child, which causes them to fall even further behind. Research proves that “children exposed to a multi-year program of music tuition involving training in increasingly complex rhythmic, tonal, and practical skills display superior cognitive performance in reading skills compared with their non-musically trained peers. There are also abundant studies proving links between learning to play a musical instrument and mathematical thinking, as well as social benefits. Don’t let your student miss out on these benefits! If you are uncertain about your student’s band days, please check with your child’s teacher, or with band teacher, Peter Perret, at


mClass Reading

The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction has implemented and required a kindergarten through third grade reading assessment called mCLASS: Reading 3D to help teachers assess, track and support each student’s reading skills. Each student will be assessed every trimester using the online assessment program. mCLASS:Reading 3D will instantly analyze your child’s development in grade-appropriate foundational reading skills. Teachers will use this data to focus their instruction around your child’s specific needs, in areas that may include:

  • Hearing and using sounds in spoken words (Phonemic Awareness)
  • Knowing sounds of letters and sounding out written words (Alphabetic Principle)
  • Reading words in stories easily, quickly, and correctly (Accuracy and Fluency)
  • Understanding what they read (Reading Comprehension).


After each assessment period you will receive a letter outlining your child’s specific assessment results and progress as a reader. The letter will also include learning activities you and your child can do together at home to reinforce skills learned at school. Parent support and reading at home are a vital part of your child’s education. The teacher’s efforts, combined with your support, will help your child read with mastery and confidence. If you have any questions about the assessment, the activities, or your child’s classroom work and progress, please talk to your child’s teacher.


Parking for Friday Sing

Many of our parents and visitors enjoy joining us for First Friday Sing (K-4). To accommodate the additional parking needs, the gravel lot will be open for afternoon parking on Friday, Sept. 5. Important note, when exiting the gravel lot you must not travel down Chestnut St. Please turn right upon exiting the lot and join the flow of traffic into the school parking lot to exit with the dismissal line.   If you do not wish to travel through the dismissal line, you can delay your departure until after 3pm and travel down Chestnut St.



Monthly Garden Work Days Scheduled for the Whole Year

It’s a well-known fact that there are few ways to have more fun than digging in the dirt. In order to help you get in your fun and your volunteer hours at the same time, we have scheduled one Saturday work day per month, from 9:00 to 1:00. Bring your kids, snacks, friends and relations, frisbees and balls, hats, and sunscreen. And just in case you want to keep things in your life simple, take note that there are enough hours in these work days to cover your entire year’s volunteer commitment for one child. If you have multiple kids at the school, we can arrange for special assignments.

These are the dates. Let your calendar know.
Sept 20, Oct 18, Nov 15, Dec 13, Jan 10, Feb 21
Mar 21, Apr 18, May 16, and Jun 6

Questions: Matt Mayers, or 723-7189


New Card Link with Lowes

We’re excited to inform you that there is now another way to support our school while grocery shopping! Lowes Foods has added the Cart to Class program, an option to link your Fresh Rewards card to the school and earn money for the school every time you purchase Lowes Foods private brand items.


To link your card:

Go to

Click on “Enroll in Cart to Class”

Enter your Fresh Rewards card account number (or phone number)

Search for/click on The Arts Based School (easier to find by typing “Arts Based School) to complete the process.


For information on how to link your Food Lion, Harris Teeter or Target cards to our school, please follow prompts on the “Your Support” section of The Arts Based School website. Don’t forget to share this information with family members and friends that want to support our school.


If you have questions regarding any of the card link programs, or are having difficulty in linking your cards please contact Etta King at


Save the Date: Book Fair Oct 6-10

The annual Scholastic Book Fair is coming to ABS Oct. 6-10! Mark your calendars! This year we will be adding an online book fair that will last 3 weeks Sept. 24- Oct.14 with many more books available! This is a great way to involve out-of-town grandparents, etc. in helping our school earn money to purchase books for our libraries and teachers! There will be a lot of volunteer opportunities along with buying opportunities. Please email Mackenzie Calhoun at if you would like to volunteer or donate money for a gift certificate so that all of our kids can buy a book!


1st Parent Council Meeting – Guest Speaker on September 12th

Please join us on Friday, September 12th at 8:15am in the Teacher Resource Room (K-4 MLK Building across from Mr. Wilbur’s Music Class).  We will have a guest speaker from Allergy Partners of the Piedmont as we discuss allergy precautions and procedures in the school.  EVERYONE at ABS is a member of Parent Council – all parents, grandparents, guardians – all are welcome!  Most Parent Council meetings last about an hour and little siblings are welcome.  Questions?  Contact PC Co-Chairs Michelle Lawrence ( and Shannon Wright (  Hope to see you there!


Watch for your HelpCounter Email this Week!

In order to make logging your volunteer hours easier, we offer the ability to record your hours through HelpCounter from home!  Please watch your email inbox this week for an email from Stephanie May, Operations Manager, inviting you to log into your HelpCounter account.  Once you log in, you can easily record your volunteer hours, set profile preferences and view volunteer opportunities.  FLAG THIS EMAIL and save it all year – it will be your HelpCounter link for the remainder of the school year.  (You can’t bookmark this link, you must save the email).  If you haven’t received an email by Friday afternoon, please contact Stephanie May (


First Assistant Principal Drawing Tomorrow at Friday Sing!

Don’t miss the chance for your child to be this year’s FIRST Assistant Principal!  The drawing takes place TOMORROW at our first Friday Sing in the MLK building back/dance space at 2pm!  Yes, your child (of any grade level) can serve as Principal Hollis’ Assistant for an entire day!  They have their own desk, name tag and list of “Principal Duties” for the day!  Simply stop by either front office and purchase your raffle tickets today ($1/ticket, $5 for 6 tickets).  All proceeds from ticket sales go to support the Hospitality budget, allowing us to do wonderful things for our ABS teachers and staff members.  Get your tickets TODAY!


Afternoon Pick-Up Procedures

Please remember if you have a K-4 child, that their pick-up time is 2:30-2:40pm (unless they stay for sibling gallery).  At 2:40pm, those children that have not been picked up yet will be taken back inside and must be picked up in the office.  Cars on Chestnut waiting for the 5-8 and sibling gallery pick up, should pull to the right hand side of the street and allow cars with blue pick up signs to pass until 2:40pm.  Starting at 2:40pm, cars in line for the 5-8 pick up should proceed into the pickup line.  Thank you!


Beginning of Grade Test

The State Board of Education has implemented a standardized test required for all third graders in North Carolina. Third grade students will take the Beginning of Grade (BOG) test in reading. A student’s BOG score will be used as baseline data to measure growth as well as a screening tool to identify those students who will need remediation to pass the End of Grade test. The NC Read to Achieve initiative which requires retention for students who do not pass the Reading EOG at third grade. The test has 42 questions and takes approximately 90 minutes to complete. It will be administered on September 8.   Testing accommodations will be provided for students with Individualized Education Plans (IEP). Make-up tests will be required for any student that is absent from the regular administration of the test.