ABS Thursday Notes- December 16, 2021

Published for the Arts Based School Community

December 16, 2021


How We Do It and Why

By Mary Siebert


The tool of every self-portrait is the mirror. You see yourself in it. Turn it the other way, and you see the world.” - Agnes Varda


Diana Greene is a freelance artist and documentarian who has taught her original curriculum to ABS students for nearly two decades. As a visiting artist, she pairs high expectations with warm, individualized attention. She draws surprisingly fresh ideas from students, helping them value their perspectives and encouraging them to follow their projects through to glistening completion. She has a beautiful eye for possibility, and teaches persistence in realizing it.


Last year, she volunteered to design a remote, COVID-year project for 4th graders. This year, she returned to in-person instruction with a more compact version of her project. She visited the classrooms in person, introducing students to the art of photography, and how it can pair adroitly with writing to describe a personal moment. She instructed students to think about about how to use photography here at the ABS campus, to represent what they love to do, and who they are.


With assistance from a fellow student, children direct a self-portrait photo, in a setting that or with props that reflect their perspective of themselves. They write a personal narrative describing themselves, including details about what you see of them in the photo, and what you can’t see. They worked through multiple drafts with their teachers to edit the writing to a polish.These written works are surprisingly revelatory and moving. 


In art class, 4th graders simultaneously and painstakingly create self-portraits to accompany the exhibition of their writing and photography. These art projects have changed over the years. In the early years, we photographed each student’s profile, then projected the child’s profile onto the board where a large piece of paper was taped. The child drew around the profile, then proceed to take steps in class to fill in the details. Shading was an important step in the process, which was finalized in oil pastel. These projects required so much teacher intervention that we have tried other angles over the years, to make the portraits more entirely kid-produced.


This year, Mr. Schmoyer had students begin with the classic oval sketch on panel board, to help them create the outline of their faces. They used mirrors to closely examine their own features. They observed carefully and drew what they saw: their own nose, eyes, mouth, eyebrows. With acrylic paints, they worked on color mixing. (Not all colors are available, so artists mix their own.) Once their features were in place, they applied the paint and learned about shading, to work toward a 3D effect. The background was painted with a faded watercolor wash of the student’s choice.


These self portraits: photos, writing, and painting, are currently on display in the 4th grade area hallways of the MLK building. Parents are welcome to stop by and enjoy them. The exhibit will be up through the end of January.



Supporting the Gray Family

This week we received the heartbreaking news that the Gray family, long-standing members of our Arts Based School community, suffered a devastating car accident over the weekend. Their oldest son was killed in the accident, and four other children, all current ABS students, were injured. ABS 8th graders Arthur and Ardriana were released from the hospital, but the Gray family's 3rd grade daughter, Jessica, and 8th grade daughter, Arielle, sustained serious injuries and remain in the hospital. We offer our deepest sympathy and support to the Gray Family. In lieu of flowers or other gifts, please consider helping to support the family as they navigate this incredibly difficult time: https://gofund.me/9bc45c82



School Calendar 2022-23

The ABS Board of Directors is considering the school calendar for 2022-23. If you would like to review the draft calendar and provide feedback, please respond to this form.

School Calendar Considerations

  • 180 days of instruction
  • Major breaks coincide with WS/FC schools
  • Trimester system allows teacher workdays to coincide with parent/teacher conferences
  • Begin school year earlier than WS/FC school to secure enrollment and fill from waiting list
  • Snow Make up days are built into calendar throughout the school year 
  • Gather input from teachers, staff, and parents


MAP Testing in January

Third through eighth grade students will complete the second round of MAP testing in January.  After the testing is complete, parents will receive an updated score report showing the progress your student has made this year.



Inclement Weather

In the event of inclement weather, ABS will announce school closings on local TV channels, under “The Arts Based School''.  This information will also be posted on the ABS website (www.artsbasedschool.com).



Volunteers Needed!

  • Another big set move is happening tomorrow, Friday, December 17 at 8:15 am in the Alex Ewing Black Box Theater. We'll move the iconic Peter & the Wolf sets into our dance studio, and move the 3rd grade sets back into storage.
  • We would also love to have someone clean our costume room—particularly sweeping and mopping the room and the stairs from the theater to the room. 
  • Our elementary music students will be participating in an African Drumming program with Resident Artist Bill Scheidt, Jan 10-14! We will be holding our music lessons at Lloyd Presbyterian Church and would love some volunteers to help us transport drums and move church pews.
  • Our MLK library/media center could use some regular parent volunteers to keep our books organized and re-shelved. 

If you’d like to help with any of these needs, please reach out to Leah Lavin for more information. 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 minimize 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.



Urgent Request for Band Instrument Donations!

We are actively seeking band instruments that can be donated to our middle school music program, especially trumpets, flutes, and clarinets. If you have an instrument to donate, please drop it off at either reception desk, and please spread the word to any friends or relatives who might have one to donate. We will accept instruments in need of repair or adjustment. We can provide tax donation forms, at your request. Thank you!

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