ABS Thursday Notes- June 4, 2020

Our Community in Mourning
The only way to undo racism is to consistently identify and describe it- and then dismantle it. -Ibram X Kendi, author of How to Be An Antiracist

Today, June 4, 2020, the NAACP has called for a National Day of Mourning for George Floyd, including 8 minutes and 46 seconds of silence to be observed at 3:45pm. The Arts Based School mourns the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and too many others. We believe that these deaths and the suffering of the black community are the result of structural racism: a complex and long-standing system designed to promote the comfort and safety of white people at the expense of all others. We invite you to observe silence with us and with mourners everywhere at 3:45 today, and then, we encourage each family to open conversations in your own hearts and homes.

We have often said that we are privileged to spend our days in the company of your children, and we feel this acutely now—when we so miss the joy and wonder they bring with them each day. Our ABS students fill us with hope for the future and remind us of our commitment to providing an education and experience that nurtures understanding. We take seriously our responsibility to your children and to our shared future, and we invite you, as always, to partner with us in this journey.

We believe that education through the arts remains an essential pathway to a more just and beautiful future. As we work to identify, describe, disrupt, and dismantle racism—we also hold a space here at ABS for our young people to be their full, creative, sincere selves. 

Thank you for entrusting your children to our care. We miss you all, and we hope you will stay safe and well. 

How We Do It and Why
by Mary Siebert

“Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world.” –Nelson Mandela

Tonight we celebrate the commencement of our 8th grade graduating class of 2020. If we were assembled together at the school, only students and their families would join us; but through our virtual celebration, we can share the celebration with all of our friends and family. I have traditionally been honored to deliver a brief commencement address at the 8th grade graduation ceremony, striving to represent the reflections and warm wishes of the staff of The Arts Based School. It has been moving and delightful to watch these memorable students grow over the past nine years. We thank all their families for sharing these brilliant children with us. Here is a message for the graduates:

This is a big day. People call these Mountaintop Days, because these are the times when you stop and look back, to see how far up you have climbed. From this vantage point, you can also cast your vision forward, to dream of what is ahead. It’s a good time to be still for a moment.

The adults in your lives are all filled with memories, seeing you at that mountaintop, because we can’t imagine how you could possibly have rocketed forward so quickly. We’re remembering when you were learning to hold a pencil. We’re remembering the first time you played an African drum, laughed with Mr. Bob, scraped your knee, showed off the first chapter book you could read, the day you swished that hook shot, the day you lifted your head and said “now I get it!” And here you are, warp speed, ready for high school. You are like astronauts looking back at the Earth from outer space, remembering the days when you only dreamt of flying, recalling the steps that got you to where you are now. We gaze back with you, marveling at the distance you have traveled, moved by the ephemeral beauty of that treasured, blue globe of childhood.

We ended this year in unknown territory, pioneering new ways of communicating, reaching across distance without getting too close, learning from our successes and our mistakes. Next year, you all become the pioneers. You sit at the controls. Wherever you are headed, you will take the same tool kit with you: knowledge. You have two secret weapons: you know how to think creatively, and you have confidence.

The adults in your world might remember 9th grade as a time when they just hoped to fit in. You are different. You are confident in your individuality. You can shout Shakespeare into the open cavern of a dark theater without revealing a moment of anxiety. You have dissected a cow heart. You have danced algebra. You can do anything.

You are creative thinkers. Wherever you go, for the rest of your life, there are lessons you have learned from the arts that will apply to everything. For example:

  • If you make a mistake, sometimes you can turn it into something even better than your first idea.
  • If you are nervous: breathe!
  • You can always make your work better, no matter how good you are. 
  • If you feel scared, remember you are an actor, and ACT like a confident person would act.
  • Every effort counts. Be respectful of others’ work, and honor your own.
  • Look into the other person’s eyes when they are talking to you, and really, really listen.
  • Share your voice!
  • Present yourself with elegance and attitude. Stand tall and remain flexible.
  • Every part is important.
  • Details are important.
  • Do your absolute best, and then let it go. 
  • Try new things. Listen to new things. Open your mind.
  • Seek the balance between passion and discipline.
  • Ensembles are powerful. Honor each individual voice, add yours to it, and work together.

We will miss you, 8th graders! You take our hearts with you.

And now we present: The Arts Based School’s Graduating Class of 2020!

Note: Please do not share ABS videos on social media.

Sharing Art From a Distance
Elizabeth Gledhill, our art teacher for 5th-8th grades, would like to share this beautiful video with all of you, representing some of the work she received from her students during distance learning.

ABS 5-8 Art, Spring 2020

Ms. Gledhill notes: “Though not ideal, there were many positive lessons to come from remote learning at ABS. I loved that faculty could still collaborate to create meaningful lessons, continue to engage students, and grow their teaching toolboxes. One example of this was an 8th grade Math lesson that Lisa Hendrix and I came up with. It was to use the Pythagorean Theorem and transfer the Spiral of Theodorus into a piece of artwork. We were so happy with it that we are going to keep it in our regular rotation.” – Elizabeth Gledhill

FAQ about Parent Pick Up
Do not come to parent pick up if you are feeling sick, have been exposed to COVID-19, are running a fever, or have a cough. We will make alternate arrangements for your items.

Although we’re very excited to see each other, we ask that you stay in your car and refrain from conversations. We will do our best to safely and quickly load your items. We may ask you to pull over and park if we need to troubleshoot your pickup.  

Should we get out of the car to help? No, thank you. Please stay in your vehicle with the windows closed. When you arrive at the flag, please “pop your trunk” so we can load your items into the trunk.  Although we will be wearing masks, we will also work to maintain social distance of 6 feet.

Can kids come? Yes, but everyone stays in the car with the windows closed!  

Will we see our teachers? Yes, the grade level teachers will be distributing items at the flags.

What if I can’t come on June 11? Items not picked up on June 11 will be kept at the school front offices. We will communicate alternative options after June 11 for parents to pick up items.

Can a friend pick up my things? Yes, but you need to inform your teacher so your items are at the flags at the right time. Also, if you are picking up for someone else, please add those names to your dismissal card you display in the window.

Can we bring our teacher a gift? Yes, teacher gifts would be fine to drop off at the middle school drop off area. Please be sure they are clearly labeled. Please do not bring anything perishable.

Does everyone in the car need to wear a mask? Yes, please wear masks as recommended by the CDC to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

What if there’s something missing from the bag we’re given? Please email your teacher if items are missing from your bag.

Do I have to come at all? Can I just leave my items until fall? Items left at school will be moved to front offices to arrange for pick up.

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. 

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

  • 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.  

If your child will not be returning for the 2020-2021 school year, please email Stephanie LeFever ([email protected]) with the name of the school your child will be attending so she can make sure your child’s school records are transferred successfully.

ABS June Board Meeting
The ABS Board of Directors will convene the June Board meeting on June 9, 2020 at 5:45pm using a virtual meeting platform. Board meetings are open to the public. If you would like to view the meeting, please email Principal Hollis for the link.