ABS Thursday Notes - September 3, 2020

Published for the Arts Based School Community
September 3, 2020

No School Monday, September 7 - Labor Day

How We Do It and Why
By Mary Siebert

“...entertainment is for the folks who, when they get home from work, need to lie down and get their minds off of things. Art is for the folks who, at the end of the day, want to get their eyes and mind more fully engaged and stimulated. Almost the reverse is also a defining distinction. For a quick jolt of adrenaline, you can’t beat Six Flags or a well-made action flick. By contrast, good art demands that you slow down and be patient.”
- Bill Lasarow, Huff Post 7/26/2010

At ABS we assume that our students get plenty of exposure to popular music, video, commercial art, and coloring books. (If not, it’s often because their parents intentionally choose to omit these things from the environment.) We try to expand their exposure to art that requires them to think and to participate...something that provides opportunity for a deep dive. But art is not always intense, focused inquiry. Sometimes it is used to soothe and comfort or simply delight; It’s lovely to do yoga, float through a housekeeping task, or just rest, for example, while listening to Erik Satie’s Gymnopédies #1. When we weave richly diverse art into the fabric of everyday routines at school, students feel that it “belongs” to them—and it does. We want to be sure that students become aware of their rich arts heritage as humans, from ancient to current. We don’t dislike entertainment, but we know we have a short time to introduce them to art. 

The distinction is foggy. We don’t ban pop culture, in fact, we often intentionally incorporate it, to grab enthusiasm and attention, and to recognize the artistry in it. Disney is packed with artistic ideas and innovations, but Disney is ubiquitous, so we rarely draw them in… we know kids will consume plenty of Disney without our help. Beyoncé is a commercial powerhouse but expresses undeniably personal artistry. Most of our students will become familiar with her work outside of school, but we might examine it in a middle school study of the power of self-expression. 

Young artists in classical music are passionately incorporating pop culture and contemporary settings into their work, confronting racism and sexism in ancient traditions, and reimagining performance practices. Two moving examples for you to share with your families: Sheku Kanneh-Mason playing Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, (you might remember this English artist from the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle,) and the spectacular Trinidadean soprano Jeanine de Bique singing Cleopatra’s aria from Julius Caesar, by Handel. She is without an orchestra, leaning casually against an outdoor urban train station, safely distanced during this time when live singers have been temporarily silenced. 

Somewhere in this abundance, we seek the sweet spot for students. We look for depth and history and variety and connection. 

Friday Sing Goes Live at 2:00 Tomorrow!
In a typical year, all K-4 students at ABS gather in the theater on the first Friday of every month, and all 320 voices sing together. Some parents join us as well, and it's a great way to kick off the weekend, with Ms. Boudreault, our music teacher, and Ms. Siebert, the arts director, leading the songs.

Our generous friends at Ovation Sound will live-stream the first Friday Sing of the year tomorrow (Friday, Sept. 4,) at 2:00! See the links below, and tune in with your students on either Facebook or YouTube. If you can’t be there at 2:00, we’ll be sharing a recording for later viewing. Friday Sing is designed for K-4 students, but all ABS kids and families are welcome!

YouTube Link for performance on Friday @ 2pm

ABS Official Facebook Page Link for performance on Friday @ 2pm. Visit the page and you will see an option to join the live stream when it opens.

How Do I Stay Up to Date with School ReOpening Plans?
We’re doing our best to keep ABS families, staff, and community updated with the latest information about our School ReOpening. We have planned a virtual information meeting for Wednesday, September 9 at 2pm. You will receive an invitation and link via your email from Evites. We will continue to provide information in multiple places, including direct email, Thursday Notes, and Virtual Parent Meetings. If you have specific topics or questions, please send them to us at this form so we can be sure to address them.

Remote Learning 101
Our goal with remote learning is to deliver the NC Standard Course of Study to support students’ continued progress in his/her education while maintaining our commitment to relationship-building and community.

Here is a review of the basics:

Taking Attendance
On remote learning days, daily attendance will be taken in the student information system, PowerSchool. 

A student is considered present for daily attendance during a remote learning day:

  • If a student completes his/her daily assignments, either online or offline; or
  • If a student has a daily check-in, a two-way communication, with the appropriate teacher(s).
  • Teachers and counselors will check in with students/families who do not maintain regular attendance.

Learning Management Systems
The Learning Management System (LMS) will be used by each class or grade level to manage all the assignments and important information for families during Remote Learning.

  • Grades K-2 will use SeeSaw.
  • Grades 3-8 will use Google Classrooms.

Materials Exchange
Each grade level team will gather the materials to distribute for students to support their online and offline learning. Typically, Materials Exchange will happen at the school on Flex Mondays, but not necessarily every flex Monday. Teachers will let you know the schedule for the Materials Exchange.


  • Grade level teams will share the teaching load and deliver the same lessons each week. 
  • Each classroom teacher will also provide opportunities for “office hours.”
  • Schedules should be shared out to families by 9:00 on Monday mornings so they can plan for the week. 
  • Our goal is to provide consistent schedules so students and families have an idea of what to expect each week.


  • Students will have live/recorded lessons from specialists. 
  • The expectation is that work for specials will be completed just like core academic subjects.
  • K-4 grade students will have visual art, dance, or music twice a week and Spanish or PE once a week. 
  • 5-8 grade students will have visual art, drama, or music twice a week and Spanish or PE once a week. 
  • Grade levels will have an assigned time for specials.
Q: Why isn’t ABS following the same schedule as other schools? Those schools are following their normal schedule at home and going to every class each day.
A: We are aware that our schedule looks different from many others. We have scheduled our students to have multiple live options per day and also have time each day for independent work assigned by the teachers. Some of our “live” time is in the form of office hours so students can get extra help, ask questions, and chat with teachers. We received a lot of feedback from families and staff that students were spending too much time on screens last spring. This schedule allows time for students to work “paper/pencil” and independently.
Q: Why is the “class size” so big?
A: The whole grade level is invited to live lessons. In any given lesson, we don’t expect that everyone will be able to make it which is why all lessons will be recorded. In these large group live lessons, teachers will be demonstrating something or explaining something to the group. Students will be encouraged to use “reactions” and chat when necessary/relevant but this would not be the time for discussion and sharing with the whole group. For that type of lesson, teachers will schedule smaller groups, possibly use breakout rooms with certain ages, or schedule appointments with groups or individuals. This grade-level instruction model allows teachers to schedule for individual meetings, small group meetings, and office hours to provide more individualized support.

Now that we have completed the first two weeks of Remote Instruction, we’d like to hear from you. Please take a few minutes to respond to this survey about Remote Learning at ABS.

4th Grade MAP Results Sent Home
Read to Achieve law requires third-grade students to show reading proficiency by the end of third grade on one of these three measures. Current fourth-grade students were unable to be tested at the end of third grade due to the COVID pandemic. To meet this requirement, MAP tests were administered remotely to fourth graders at the beginning of the 2020-21 school year. Parents will receive their child’s score report via the US Postal Service.

ABS Family/Student Directory
To be sure we have accurate contact information for the ABS family/student directory, each family completed the required Student Form at the beginning of the school year. Families that do not want to be published in the ABS directory should email Principal Hollis before September 11.

Parent Council Meeting - Friday, September 11 at 12pm
Our first Parent Council meeting will be next Friday via zoom. Please submit any questions or topics you would like to discuss via our parent council link. Please indicate PC meeting in your submission. We invite all parents, caregivers, and learning coaches to join us. More details to come.

Parent Council Kickoff Social Meeting - Monday, September 14 at 12pm!
The Parent Council Board would like to invite all parents, caregivers, and learning coaches to join us for a kickoff and “get to know each other” meeting. Feeling connected to your Arts Based community is more important than ever during these new and challenging times. You are not alone out there! We are all working hard to make the most of this new frontier for our learners. We look forward to working together to help find ways to create and support our school community! Join us via zoom on our next Flex Monday, September 14th @ 12pm. Please submit questions or ideas for discussion via our parent council link. Please indicate “social” in your submission.

Volunteers Needed
We are looking for volunteers to serve as classroom representatives. This job will be new and different this year, but your primary responsibilities will be to 1) help facilitate connections between class and grade level families, and 2) support your teachers. If you would like to serve in this position please contact Debbie Mason

We are also looking for a new co-chair for the ABS PC board. In this role, you will help communicate between parents and the school, plan the year’s events, serve as a liaison to the ABS Board of Directors, and preside at PC meetings. This is a 2-year position. If you have questions or are interested please email Becky Dickson.

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