ABS Thursday Notes- May 19, 2022

Published for the Arts Based School Community

May 19, 2022

How We Do It and Why

By Mary Siebert

“I began to see art not primarily as an individual expression of talent, but as a responsibility, to reflect the spirit and style of the Negro people. It became an awesome responsibility to me.” - John T. Biggers

The artist John T. Biggers was born in North Carolina, and became a superstar in his lifetime. He founded the art department at Texas Southern University and painted more than 100 murals during his career. Although he lived most of his adult life in Texas, he returned home in 1989, when he was commissioned by Delta Fine Arts in Winston-Salem to create two murals, 30 feet tall and fifteen feet wide, to be installed in the atrium of the O’Kelly Library at Winston-Salem State University. His nephew James Biggers, an elegant artist in his own right, assisted.  The murals are sisters; breathtaking and uplifting. One is titled Origins, the other is Ascension

As described on the Delta Arts website, “the two murals represent an integration of knowledge from many academic disciplines. African mythology and folklore have been fused with mathematical concepts, scientific theories, literary extracts, American historical events, sociological patterns and religious beliefs. Though the dramatic images are characteristically African and/or African-American, the messages contained in each mural are universal and speak to all humanity. The people, colors, shapes, patterns, objects, and animals in the murals have multiple meanings and symbolism.”

Last week, as part of their social studies curriculum, which focuses on the local community, ABS third graders visited the murals. The library personnel at WSSU were delighted to have students see the murals, and made them feel welcome, sharing pamphlets about the works and answering questions about how it was created. Their teachers had familiarized themselves with the works and with the space in which they are exhibited, and made plans that were just right for young children. The students were divided into six small groups, each led by a parent, and the groups rotated through the platforms of the stairs that scale the three stories of the massive paintings. The teaching team had pulled together a treasure hunt of symbols, for the children to find at each level. After the initial “Wows!” and heads tilted back in wonder when we first arrived, the students excitedly got down to the business of searching for the symbols and specific images. (We took the precaution of scheduling their visits after WSSU students were finished studying in the library for final exams!)

The students returned to school to join Mr. Schmoyer in the art class, where they designed murals that feature symbols which represent their own lives, incorporating geometric patterns, as Biggers did, to unify the work. This exercise brings them into greater appreciation of the effort required to make the masterpieces they saw. We hope that the whole experience also made them aware of their rich artistic heritage, as citizens of Winston-Salem. If you have never seen these beautiful works of art, take a little field trip yourself to the O’Kelly library on the WSSU campus. These treasures are there every day, free of charge, to fill you with wonder.

EOG testing begins Monday, May 23

Testing Schedule

May 23 EOG Science 5th and 8th grades

May 24 EOG Reading 3rd & 4th grades

May 25 EOG Math 3rd & 4th grades

May 26 EOG Reading 5th -8th grades

May 27 EOG Math 5th -8th grades 


May 31 EOC Math I

June 1 EOG Reading Make Up Tests & RtA-3rd 

June 2 EOG Math Make Up Tests

June 3 EOG Science Make Up Tests

Garden Work Day: Saturday, May 21!

Please join Mrs. Hollis and friends on Saturday morning  (May 21) from 9am-12pm to make some progress in the gardens! An ABS alum will be working on his Eagle Scout badge by building new raised beds for us in the Terraced Gardens. Bring your garden tools and your water bottle! Kids are welcome, but are the responsibility of their parent. You can sign up here to let us know that you’ll be there, but you can also just show up! 

Lion King Video

ABS parent and filmmaker Ryan McGowan has completed editing a beautiful video of the fabulous 8th grade performance of Disney's Lion King Jr.  Thank you Ryan!


 To view the video, please visit and sign in at the Family Portal at artsbasedschool.com   The password is: Simba


The video is for educational use and for the families of Arts Based School 8th graders. Please do not download or share it on social media. Note that ABS purchased a license from Disney to create this video. 

Final Friday Sing on Wednesday June 1

Due to graduation, our final Friday Sing will be Wed. June 1st at 1:50 pm. K-4 students will gather in the courtyard. We will once again need a few volunteers to help us set up and break-down the equipment. If you can help, please sign up here!

8th Grade Graduation

We are excited that we will be able to celebrate this moment in person! 8th Grade graduation will take place in the Alex Ewing Blackbox Theater in the MLK building, at 6:00 p.m. on Friday, June 3. FOUR audience members per student, regardless of age, are invited to attend the brief ceremony. Masking is currently required indoors on the ABS campus for all students, staff, and visitors. This event will not be live streamed, but we will make a simple video to share with friends and family.

Around Town

ABS alum Jackson Calhoun, now a professional ballet dancer, will dance a starring role in Don Quixote with the Triad International Ballet. May 19-22 at the Sloan Theatre in Greensboro. For tickets https://www.triadinternationalballet.org/

The Winston-Salem Girls Chorus is opening registrations now for new singers for the fall of 2022. There are various choirs for Kindergarten - 12th grades, with Director Anne Saxon. Learn more HERE.

UNCSA's Acting Out program is presenting Peter and the Starcatcher June 2-5. It features 6 current ABS students and one alumna. Directed by former ABS drama teacher, Mr. Zayas. Tickets are available here