ABS Thursday Notes- November 18, 2021

Published for the Arts Based School Community

November 18, 2021

Conference Days- November 19- Early Dismissal

  • K-4 Dismiss at 11:45
  • 5-8 Dismiss at 12 noon

No School-Nov 22-26 Thanksgiving Break

How We Do It and Why

By Mary Siebert

"To achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan, and not quite enough time."

  • Leonard Bernstein

It was lovely to have an audience for our 5th grade production of Romeo & Juliet on the Border, this week! We wished we could have welcomed every friend, family member, and sibling. But our limited 2-per-family audience made us feel like we had a full house.

This production is always something of a miracle. It is full of the “magic of theater,” which is experienced by performers and audience alike. Students work both as performers and as stage technicians, perhaps dashing breathlessly from a dramatic exit stage right, across the backstage, to a singing solo at stage left, and then off to move a set piece into place. There is always a transformation of community, after this high energy group effort. Every individual is valued, and everyone has their part in the flow.

We went into this project knowing that, while the show is a familiar tradition, it would be an experiment this year. Here’s why:

It’s challenging to project your voice to an audience when you are 10 or 11 years old. It’s twice as challenging while wearing a mask, and our students have stepped up to it beautifully. Their exuberance catapults them way beyond such concerns. We were able to order color-coordinated masks for their costumes, and that worked!

We’ve had many long-term absences during our rehearsal period, due to the pandemic. This then requires us to use up very limited rehearsal time to re-do what we’ve done before. Some students were running through their parts for the first time on the day of performance. 

For the first time ever, each class is doing their own production. With twenty kids in the show instead of sixty, every student gets more opportunity, but staging three shows is three times as complicated. Our drama teacher, Mr. Brown, had to rewrite the script, adapting it three times to suit each cast. 

We have not acted, sung, or danced together for over a year and a half, so we missed the building blocks from 4th grade, which lead to these skills.

We re-staged and re-choreographed everything: partner dances, stage combat, even a wedding scene, to allow for social distancing.

Where we once hired a lighting operator and a sound operator, our own Ms. Heidi (drama teacher at K-4,) not only choreographed the fights, but also ran the lights, the sound, and created the programs, acted as director’s assistant, among many other tasks.

Our director Mr. Brown, who would typically sit up above the production to call cues, was backstage, moving sets, managing actor/technicians, holding everyone’s energy together through generous application of his own remarkable spirit, drive, and commitment. With him are the classroom teachers for each class, who never get to actually see the show. They are backstage too, assisting confused or nervous  students, coaching kids to remain focused.

So, we considered this to be a workshop production of sorts. If we got tangled up, the director stepped forward to explain the next step, and assist the actors in getting into position for the next scene. We were already successful, before we performed. The process of learning the story, the related historic background, the music, the way a play is rehearsed, and the interdependency of creating theater with peers had already been harvested before we hit the stage. All of that teacher labor is the source of the magic, and the students absorb it and display it like a shower of energy fireworks. 

Help us move the Romeo & Juliet set tomorrow!

One or two volunteers are still needed after early dismissal tomorrow, November 19, from 12:30-1:30, to help us return sets, props and costumes from the theater to the basement, and to bring sets and props for the next show up into the theater. The process will require about one hour. Although the heaviest pieces are on wheels, strength is needed to tilt and angle them to get them through low spaces. We will meet in the Ewing blackbox theater in the MLK building at 12:30. Thank you!

Yearbook Ordering

Last year we sold out of yearbooks! Make sure you have your copy by ordering today! Orders can be placed online by visiting the Strawbridge website and clicking the red “Order Pictures and Yearbooks” button at the top of the page. The price is $22 and our school code is YB106312.


If you have any photos of your student participating in an ABS event that you would like to share for the yearbook, please send them to Nicole Taylor at nspirlin@zagmail.gonzaga.edu. Please include your student’s name, grade, and teacher’s name. 

Parent Council Recording

In case you missed it, here’s the recording from this morning’s meeting. 

Topic: ABS Parent Council Mtg

Date: Nov 18, 2021 08:22 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Meeting Recording

Picture Retakes...One more time

November 30 is picture make-up and re-retake day. Any student who was absent on picture day will automatically be photographed as these pictures are used for our annual yearbook. If you would like to opt in for your child to have their picture retaken, please send a note or email to your child’s homeroom teacher.

Support ABS through Amazon Smile

If you have an Amazon account, you can support ABS with every purchase simply by selecting us as your chosen non-profit. Visit Smile.Amazon and search for ABS with our EIN: 56-2160330. Thank you!

Prospective Parent Tours

School tours for prospective parents are scheduled weekly on Thursdays at 9:30am. Each tour is limited to 10 adults in an effort to limit the disruption to our students and teachers in the classrooms. Parents interested in learning more about ABS and how to enroll their child should contact the front office to sign up for a tour: 748-4116 ext 1023. Applications will be accepted beginning January 1. The lottery will be held on the second Tuesday of February.

New ABS T-Shirts Available!

If you’d like to show your ABS pride (or need a gift for someone who loves ABS or an ABS student), we have some new options for you!

  • All orders must be placed by midnight tonight, November 18.
  • We will send your orders home with your ABS student the week of December 13.
  • The "Shipping" purchase item is for ABS alums and others who live further afield and need their items mailed. You will not be charged for shipping unless you add this item to your cart. 
  • The checkout process will ask for your "shipping" address regardless of whether or not you need your item shipped to you. Just go with the flow, please. 
  • A portion of each sale comes back to ABS to help support our school. Thank you!!

You can browse the new shirts (and a fun bandana) here

Around Town

Nutcracker Tea: Dec. 18 and 19

UNCSA’s Preparatory Dance Nutcracker Tea Party will be held December 18 and 19 at the Agnes de Mille Theatre on UNCSA’s campus. As a thank you to the Arts Based School for hosting our performances in past years, UNCSA is offering a $5.00 discount on tickets to staff, faculty and students.

The code is ABSTEA and it can be used for internet or telephone purchases. Visit uncsa.edu/nutcrackertea to learn more.
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