ABS Thursday Notes- January 13, 2022

Published for the Arts Based School Community

January 13, 2022

No School- Monday, Jan 17- MLK Day

How We Do it and Why

by Mary Siebert

“Performance on simple tapping tasks relates with a variety of critical abilities outside the musical domain, from cognitive and linguistic skills to handwriting. Moreover, abnormal rhythmic performance is associated with language deficits such as dyslexia as well as attention-related deficits. The potential for music classes to strengthen fundamental temporal processing mechanisms therefore holds great promise for educators and clinicians.” -  Plos One, peer reviewed science/medical journal - Oct. 10, 2013

Participating in African drumming classes with resident artist Bill Scheidt is one of the magical delights of our school traditions, and we are happy to have these classes back in person.

Bill Scheidt has taught African drumming at ABS for eighteen of our twenty years. During that time his local company, Tam Tam Mandingue Djembe Academy Winston-Salem, has grown substantially. “Mr. Bill” is in demand at drumming residencies around the world. For decades he met and studied with his mentor, Mamady Keita, a master drummer from Guinea who founded the Tam Tam Mandingue school, world-wide. We were honored to welcome Mamady to our school for a visit, well over ten years ago. To our great sadness, the djembe master passed away last year. Mr. Bill continues Mamady’s legacy by sharing his work with learners of all ages.

We are fortunate that Mr. Bill teaches our students in person. He has a staff of wonderful drumming teachers, but because ABS has a long and positive relationship with him, Mr. Bill does his best to be with us himself. (He is also a parent and board member for ABS.) Students and staff are delighted by his powerfully positive energy and his inspirational skills both at drumming and teaching. Our neighbor, Lloyd Presbyterian Church, allows us to rent their lovely sanctuary when Mr. Bill is here, and all this week the little white church is bursting with the joyful noise of young students playing our fleet of djembes and ashikos, learning steady beat, patterns, cultural connections, geography, teamwork, careful listening, improvisation. 

Students work with rhythms from simple counting to complex, layered, traditional songs. Our K-4 music teacher, Mary Boudreault, assists Mr. Bill during residencies for the younger students, and has learned the basics of drumming from Mr. Bill’s visit. In a few weeks, he will partner with our 5-8 music teacher, Court Wynter, to share a residency with the older students, and Mr. Court will be learning along with them, at his own level. The introduction to these skills for our own teachers is yet another legacy branch from Mamady. 

We often find that visiting musicians who invite our students to “clap along” are startled by the accuracy of the clapping. In any typical setting, with children or with adults, the clapping speeds up and splinters apart, either disrupting the song or falling away into awkward surrender. Our students, though, tend to remain right on the beat, and after several measures of this the professionals turn to me with raised eyebrows and astonished looks. Even today, in the second drumming lesson for Kindergarten, I was impressed by the steady beat of the students. Although this is partially testimony to the teaching of our own “Mrs. B,” we find that nine years of the annual residencies result in jubilant, confident drumming by our 8th graders at their graduation ceremony.

Aside from the benefits mentioned above, internal understanding of rhythm assists children with patterning and grouping in math. There is obviously an important social studies connection to West African culture. In addition there are proven health benefits, such as strengthened immunization and stress relief, from group African drumming. Evidence of team-building and increased focus and concentration from drumming have been powerful enough to persuade some Fortune 500 companies to provide African drumming with Bill Scheidt for their employees during the work day. They have discovered the ABS secret! 

Routine Safety Drills

Our ABS community looks for ways to provide our children and staff with stability, security, and a collective sense of well-being.

The relatively small footprint of our campus as well as our entire staff’s knowledge of children and their parents not only nurtures our tight-knit community, but it also sustains a connectedness that enhances our children’s safety. Our community members know and support one another. Children’s safety is always our highest priority. As a result, throughout the course of the year we have several different precautionary drills that include fire, tornado, and lock down drills.

  1. In fire drills, we test our response time for evacuating the building. We conduct these drills monthly. Students are taken outside for this drill.
  2. For a tornado drill, students are inside away from exterior windows. They are seated with their heads down and hands over the back of their necks. We conduct this drill in March in coordination with the state’s Severe Weather Preparedness week.
  3. For lockdown drills, teachers and students stay in the classroom, turn off the lights and must be silent. We practice this drill once a year.


Our procedures are based on the state’s crisis intervention kit, provided to all schools. As part of our school safety and crisis plan, we conduct annual lockdown training for staff which includes the children’s orderly following of directions, lockdown “shelter in place,” and common sense decision-making. Full details of our lockdown plans are not shared publicly as recommended by security experts.

Parent Council Meeting – Thursday, January 13!

Please join us virtually for an ABS Parent Council meeting TODAY at 5:30 pm. All ABS parents, families, and caregivers are part of the Parent Council and are welcome to attend! You should have received an evite with the link, but if not, please contact Mrs. Hollis.

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

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 emailed to our parent list and posted on the ABS website (www.artsbasedschool.com).

Band Instrument Donations!

We continue to actively seek 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!

ABS Grounds and Gardens

Although we are now deep into winter, our grounds and gardens are still a place where life unfolds—birds visit seed pods; pollinators and insects rest beneath the leaves; and grasses, shrubs, and trees wait patiently for longer days. Our grounds and learning gardens have a history and a purpose, and we are working now on plans for the spring. Please regard these spaces with care, and reach out to us if you have any questions at all. We look forward to sharing more information on the learning gardens soon!

One-Day MLK Pizza Volunteers Needed: Tomorrow Only!

We are fortunate to have amazing pizza volunteers on a regular basis who help to distribute boxed slices to each classroom in both the MLK and 7th Street buildings… But tomorrow (Friday, January 14), we could use a hand at the MLK building if you’re available! The pizza action happens from 10:30-12pm. If you can help, please let us know. Thank you!

Activity Fee Due

ABS is publicly funded and free to all students. We ask families to contribute a $40 activity fee each year to help cover the costs of our field trips, special arts activities, and more. You can pay your Activity Fee by check or online. If you have questions or need help, please let us know

Yearbook Request

The yearbook creators are looking for “Guess Who?” baby pictures for 8th grade students. Please send your photos with the student’s name to Nicole Taylor at nspirlin@zagmail.gonzaga.edu.


We are asking for submissions by Feb. 1, 2022.

Around Town

SpongeBob SquarePants Musical

Two ABS students will perform in SpongeBob SquarePants, a musical at Theatre Alliance, Fri 1/28 at 8, Sat 1/29 at 3 and 8, and 1/30 at 2. 

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