ABS Thursday Notes- May 21, 2020

Mon, May 25 No School Memorial Day

How We Do It and Why
By Mary Siebert

“Film is incredibly democratic and accessible, it’s probably the best option if you actually want to change the world, and not just re-decorate it.” – Banksy

The NC Standard Course of Study requires 6th graders to develop an understanding of “the emergence, expansion, and decline of civilizations and societies in the ancient world,” from the beginnings of human society through 1450.

This is a dramatically broad swath of time and events for 10-11-year-olds to digest in a few short months. The grand scope suggests the art of filmmaking. Through years of developing our 6th grade film project, we find that the prospect of performing in their own short films is a great motivator for kids’ research. In a 2016 “Nation’s Report Card” video featuring ABS, an 8th grader reported that this project inspired and transformed the way he approached research; an influence that has stuck with him.

After deep research on Genghis Khan, Joan of Arc, and Mansa Musa, each class shared what they thought were the most critical details from their assigned leader’s story. They helped construct rhymes for lyrics that were set to upbeat musical theater classic songs, providing a Monty Python-esque sense of absurdity that inspires kid humor and silly anachronisms; desirable attributes for this project. They visited Ovation Sound to pre-record their soundtracks with Bill Stevens in a professional recording studio, then developed ideas for a shot list to make their movies.

Visiting artist Tyler Hickman, a freelance filmmaker, worked with Mr. Brown to film the three numbers, inspired by students’ storyboards and ideas for shots. Kids learned first-hand that movie making is grueling, fun, time-consuming, and requires a lot of “hurry up and wait.” On campus, we saw the Great Golden Hordes of Genghis Khan, outfitted in furs, helmets, and plastic weaponry, battling in the nooks and crannies of our campus. On another day, pilgrims accompanied the richest man in the history of the world, Mansa Musa, king of the Malian Empire, on his way to Mecca. They danced joyfully through the desert (you know, that place where the grass has been worn away by a little too much soccer?) scattering gold to the peasants and inadvertently crashing the economy of Egypt in the process. And Joan of Arc, surrounded by her soldiers and inspired by a vision, led the French to victory in the Battle of Orleans.

Ideas and problem-solving and laughter abound, but so does disciplined work. Teachers remind students that this is a “No Complaining” zone. Yes, you get too hot, too bored, too impatient. Welcome to the movies. But each time they shoot the moment again, students are both practicing theatrical skills and reviewing those historical facts. Over and over, they sing:

Come on, join us in thirteen twenty-four
We are walking four thousand miles or more
It’s Mansa Musa’s pilgrimage, a famous episode
And he’s sharing a mountain of gold.

We are delighted that this final student performance was fully recorded and filmed shortly before we left campus for the year. Mr. Brown and Mr. Hickman worked together remotely to complete the edits, and the movies were released in an exclusive, private showing for 6th graders and their families via Zoom yesterday. Here they are, for all of our community to enjoy!

Genghis Khan – Ms. Hugus’ Class

Mansa Musa – Ms. Hedgecock’s Class

Joan of Arc – Ms. Christian’s Class

ABS Summer Camps Cancelled
After much thought and consideration, we have made the difficult decision to cancel all of our camps this summer due to the coronavirus pandemic and the impact it continues to have on our community. I know this is disappointing news but I do believe it’s the right decision for our school, staff, and ABS families.

June 11 Parent Pick UP Day / June 12 Rain date Procedures
Parents will drive through the pick up line in the same fashion as the daily pick up procedure. Parents, please post dismissal name cards in the front window so the caller and loaders can see clearly. If you do not have a dismissal name card, please make one that includes the student’s first name, last name and grade level, make them BOLD and LARGE.  

Parents/students should all stay inside the vehicle. ABS staff will load student belongings.

Parents will stop at flags to be loaded.

To maintain social distancing and reduce the number of people interacting, we will load the vehicles by grade levels. For families with more than one student, please come during the oldest sibling’s time slot so we can have all siblings’ belongings ready for pick up.

  • 9-9:30 Kindergarten
  • 10-10:30 First grade 
  • 11-11:30 2nd/3rd grade
  • 12-12:30 4th/5th grade 
  • 1-1:30 6th grade
  • 2-2:30 7th/8th grade

Drop Off of School Property
For items to be returned to the school, the parent will continue down to the middle school building sidewalk, where ABS staff will receive items to be returned.

ABS staff will receive items from parents on the sidewalk in front of the middle school building, sorting items into labeled baskets based on teacher/grade level. These items will be quarantined before they are returned to classrooms. Parents should remain in vehicles. Staff will wear masks and gloves. 

7th and 8th Grade Math Classes
Parents of rising 7th and 8th graders may be wondering about math classes for next year. All students are required to learn 7th grade math in 7th grade and 8th grade math in 8th grade. Most students will take these required classes as their only math instruction. Some students who have demonstrated advanced skills in math will be eligible for advanced math instruction in addition to the math they are required to learn for their grade level. We offer Math I for 7th graders and 8th graders who qualify, and Math II for 8th graders who qualify. Mrs. Raper will email 6th and 7th grade families later today with more information.

Preparing for the End of the School Year
Here are some important dates as we work to complete the school year:

  • Mon, May 25 No School Memorial Day
  • Thurs, May 28 Last day for new assignments with distance learning. Teachers will still be available to connect with and support students online until the last day of school, June 5.
  • Tues, June 2 All assignments due- Math I and Math II Grading decision due
  • Wed-Fri, June 3-5 Parent-Teacher conferences via ZOOM. Teachers will prepare and provide student narratives and offer end of year virtual conferences for parents.
  • Mon-Wed, June 8-10 Staff at school (following all health and safety guidelines) organizing rooms and preparing student items for pickup.
  • Thurs, June 11 Parent Drive Thru Pick up line to retrieve personal items. We are working on plans and logistics for families to retrieve their personal items from the school and to return school property such as library books and musical instruments. Stay tuned for more information.
  • Fri, June 12 Alternate day for Parent Pick up in the event of rain.