ABS Thursday Notes- January 27, 2022

Published for the Arts Based School Community

January 27, 2022

How We Do It and Why

By Mary Siebert

…He demonstrated his PhD on metal fatigue by using the forces between human bodies as an analog. He even used the dancers to depict data graphs."

  • John Bohannan, Science journalist and Director of “Dance Your PhD” 

Years ago, dance teacher Jan Adams showed me a TED talk by scientist and writer John Bohannan. He proposed using dancers instead of Powerpoint presentations to explain physics, and engaged professional dancers to make his point. This inspired us to work with our upper grade math and science teachers to collaborate with choreographers, with the thought that they would share ideas and terms for 6th graders to describe through dance. Ms. Adams choreographed the ideas around scientific studies of matter: atoms, molecules, their properties, and what can cause them to change. It is particularly appropriate to describe energy via the movements of 6th graders, whose intensity and stamina are an excellent match for atomic power. Our advanced math teacher for 7th and 8th grades, Jennifer Lewis, helped identify some “danceable” terms from introductory algebra. Visiting artist Thao Nguyen is a mystifyingly gifted singer/choreographer/actor/teacher, who conjures fresh, collective movement ideas fueled by the genuine gifts and collective energy of each year’s students. 

In describing the process of developing his video, Bohannon writes, “The piece changed drastically over the course of its creation.” That has also been the case with our dances. It began with the observation that math is fun, for those who love it. Play, experimentation, and feedback are engines of rich learning in any field. We wanted our students to play with math, through movement and characterization. Vocabulary for new concepts is a challenge in early algebra, so we targeted algebra words for students to learn more deeply, developing familiarity and an undaunted, playful attitude around these terms. Likewise, in science, we targeted vocabulary and molecular structures upon which to build choreography. 

Liz Green, our curriculum coordinator, created a clever, sleek, full-screen video as the production developed, which acts as a backdrop to the dancers, supporting the music, the movement, and the contemporary, TED-inspired vibe. 

This year’s set incudes a fresh addition: a “forest” of mathematical symbols envisioned by Thao and brought to life by art teacher Elizabeth Gledhill. The neon signs form a colorful surround at the base of the stage, and students occasionally grab a few to incorporate them into the dance.

“Mr. Thao” now choreographs and directs the entire show. Over the years, he has reimagined the project to incorporate any challenges that come our way. Last year, he coached entirely remote Zoom contributions from home, to make a video. This year, in spite of losing a week of preparation to the storm, he has a fully masked group of students ready to perform tonight. 

6th Grade Math & Science Dances Performance Tonight!

The performance of this event begins at 5:30 this evening, and lasts a little under half an hour. 6th Graders will congregate at SECCA between 5:00-5:15, dressed in black dance clothing. Audience is restricted to two people per student, and all students and audience members must be masked indoors. SECCA (the (Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art,) is located at 750 Marguerite Drive, in Winston-Salem. 

Kindergarten Peter and the Wolf Next Week!

Kindergarten students will perform Peter and the Wolf on Wednesday, February 2 at 12:15, at the Freedman Theater on the UNCSA campus. Audience is restricted to two people per student, and must be masked indoors. Parking is available at the fitness center, and shuttle buses will transport audience members to the theater. 

Snow Days Make Up and Remote Learning

According to our school snow policy, in the event of school closing due to inclement weather, natural disasters, or other emergencies, up to three days will be forgiven and not required for staff or students to make up. 

Additional days for both students and staff will be built into the approved calendar each year, designated as possible make up days. After three days are forgiven, as specified above, students and staff will make up the days when school is closed due to inclement weather, natural disasters, or other emergencies, until the days designated on the school calendar as possible make up days have all been used. So far that means we have one snow day to make up which will be made up on Feb. 21 as indicated on the school calendar.

For this school year, the State Legislature allows us to use up to five days of remote learning during inclement weather cancellations. As we move forward and potentially experience more inclement weather days, our teachers will provide remote learning during snow days. Unlike the previous remote learning we provided, we would not be expecting live zoom meetings, but more likely a list of assignments that students can complete at home with materials they already have at hand. For assignments that need additional materials, teachers will send home “snow packets” this week so you have what you need should the need arise. 

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).

Parent Council Meeting – Thursday, January 28! New Date

Please join us virtually for an ABS Parent Council meeting Jan 28 at 12, noon. All ABS parents, families, and caregivers are part of the Parent Council and are welcome to attend! You should receive an email with the link, but if not, please contact Mrs. Hollis.

Bonuses for School Staff

Congratulations and thank you to our teachers and staff for all the hard work and dedication they have shown our students and families through this challenging school year. The ABS Board of Directors recognized their hard work with a bonus in December using part of the school COVID relief funds. This month, the state has provided additional funding for a second bonus! We are proud of the work they do, and are pleased to provide a token of appreciation. 

Welcome to our Winston-Salem State University and Wake Forest Student Teacher Observers

We’re delighted to welcome new student teachers and student observers to our classroom this month. In partnership with WSSU and WFU, we will be hosting educators-in-training in many of our K-6 classrooms. We are excited to be a part of the process of training new teachers as well as providing additional support to our students in the classroom. 

Yearbook Request

The yearbook creators are looking for “Guess Who?” baby pictures for 8th grade students, as well as candid shots from all grades. Please send your photos with the student’s name to Nicole Taylor by Feb. 1, 2022.

Prospective Parents’ 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 are being accepted now until January 31 at 3pm. The lottery will be held on the second Tuesday of February.

Student Intent for 2022-23 School Year

As we prepare for next year’s enrollment lottery (2022-23), it is important to know how many spaces are available in each grade. As a current student, your child has priority placement and no additional action is required. If your child is not returning to ABS for the 2022-23 school year, please notify Stephanie LeFever as soon as possible. 

In addition, siblings of current ABS students receive priority, but must fill out an enrollment application. You must complete an application for the 2022-23 school year for siblings of current students in order to reserve a space before the lottery. The deadline for receiving applications is Jan 31 at 3pm. Applications are available on our school website: www.artsbasedschool.com.

Volunteer Needs

If you are willing to help with any of the following needs, please sign up here. Thank you!

TODAY at 3pm: We are looking for two volunteers to help us move sets from the MLK dance studio to the theater. This task requires strength and will take about 30 minutes or less. 

Tomorrow, Friday, January 28, 3pm: Four or more volunteers are needed to move sets from the Alex Ewing Blackbox Theater to the basement loading dock, as well as moving some pieces that are not currently in use in the theater. This task requires strength and will last about 45 minutes. 

Monday, January 31, 8:15 am: Four or more volunteers are needed at the MLK building basement loading dock, to move sets into a van for Peter & the Wolf, for transport to the UNCSA campus. This task requires strength and will last about 30 minutes.

Wednesday, February 2, 1pm: Four or more volunteers are needed to meet at the ABS basement loading dock (at the bottom of the MLK building) to load Peter & the Wolf sets from the truck to the basement. This task requires strength and will last about 30 minutes once the sets have arrived. (Note that sets are loaded into the truck by a union crew at the theater; parents are needed only at the school, but might have to wait for the truck to arrive.)

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.