ABS Thursday Notes- August 25, 2022

Published for the Arts Based School Community

August 25, 2022

How We Do It and Why

By Mary Siebert

“The secret to humor is surprise.” - Aristotle

As the school year begins, it can sometimes feel skittery or cumbersome, launching with hesitation, like a hot air balloon filled with a few too many passengers. As parents become accustomed to early morning schedules, lunch packing, clothing decisions, and traffic patterns, and as students become accustomed to wearing shoes all day, staying awake through classes, and remaining quiet when the teacher is talking… we are laying a foundation for a year of learning. In the classrooms, teachers are attending to the all-important “procedures” that make instruction possible. For the little kids: how to line up or sit in a circle, handle books, move to stations of learning. How to behave at lunchtime, how to take your place as line leader or caboose. How to raise your hand to ask a question, clean your paintbrush, take off your shoes for dance class, how to bring your troubles to the teacher or a class meeting.

For the big kids: how to move from social studies to science. How to show respect for your classmates even if you disagree, how to organize your work, how to carefully handle a musical instrument, how to follow safety regulations in science class, to visit your locker.

The veteran teachers deliver these procedural instructions with the expertise and precision of a professional quarterback. They zip through those lessons and their students sweep into the music room or the lunchroom, silent and focused and ready for the next thing. For new teachers, there are many “aha!” moments as they discover where they could have prevented a delay, could have made a transition smoother, could have worded instructions more clearly.

Aside from delivering the information kids need about procedures, we are also learning who they are and what they already know, as we begin to teach the standards. Even if your student has been here for six years, their new teacher is starting over with them. And with students new to the school, either because they have transferred or because they are in kindergarten, we can be constantly surprised by what they recall from last year, and what they’ve already learned at home.

At our new hire training, and often as a refresher for returning teacher work days, Mrs. Hollis leads us in an exercise that reminds us how to focus on what we love about each individual student (or colleague.) It’s a playful exercise, but one we take seriously. Looking with focused concentration for what we admire and enjoy about each student keeps us open to being surprised and delighted by them, every day. Surprise makes us laugh. That’s the best fuel for our engines!

Please Donate Your Flute!

The ABS band program needs ONE more flute to make our supply complete, so that we can provide an instrument for every 6th grader. If you have one, or if you know someone who has one, please reach out to Mary Siebert: [email protected]

Parking Lot Pointers

Here are some helpful hints for pick-up and drop-off to help keep our students safe:

-Drive slowly and carefully through all school parking lots. 

-Please keep students in cars until 7:45. If you would like to get out earlier, please park in a marked parking spot and supervise your child outside of the car until 7:45. 

-Please display your car sign on your dash on the passenger side until your child is in the car.

-Please have your student ready to get out of the car on the passenger side of the vehicle and move immediately to the sidewalk. Students can get out of the car once they are next to the sidewalk or potted plants.

-If you must unload/load on the driver's side, please help us train our students to walk around the front of your vehicle so you can see them make it safely to the sidewalk.

-Please do not get out of your car in the carline. If your child needs extra help buckling and unbuckling, please park and assist your child until they can do that independently.

-Please stay in the line and do not pull around another car even if you are already loaded or unloaded.

-Finally, please consider volunteering for morning drop-off or afternoon pickup. Extra adults are always helpful as students and parents learn the routine. Thanks!

K-2nd Graders to Host a Very Special Visitor…

As more and more guests and visiting artists are able to be welcomed back into our buildings, we are looking forward to some special gatherings! We are delighted to announce that on September 23, Kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd graders at ABS North and ABS South will have the chance to meet Tony award-winning actress Idina Menzel! (We can hardly believe it!!) Ms. Menzel and her sister, writer and educator Cara Mentzel, will be reading from and talking about their new book, Loud Mouse. Loud Mouse is about a little mouse finding her big voice. Look for an order form in today’s Thursday Folders.


The author and singer's visit is made possible thanks to a partnership with our friends at Bookmarks, whose Festival of Books and Authors runs from September 22-26 and brings world-class writers to Winston-Salem. The Menzel/Mentzel sisters' visit to ABS is their only school visit, and is open only to Kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd graders at ABS North and South along with their teachers. Their official Festival appearance on Saturday, September 24, at 9:00 a.m. in Winston Square Park is free and open to the public. 

Loud Mouse Orders

Order forms are due by September 12 if you’d like to have your book in time for Idina Menzel’s special visit! Forms are in today’s Thursday Folders for K-2 students. Orders received after September 12 will be delivered after September 27. You can print a copy of the order form here

Volunteer Shout-Out

Volunteering is one of the things that makes ABS tick, and we are always so grateful for the time and energy that families give to our school! This week, we wanted to thank Tony Baker, who often volunteers to help with keeping our grounds trimmed in addition to directing traffic every morning at ABS North. Tony helps out “because I quickly realized that my boys would get up and be ready to leave on time if they knew that I had to help with the traffic - and, they discovered that they liked having the extra settle-in time by being so early to school." Tony asks us all to “please remember: pull all the way to the bottom of the hill, have your kids ready to get out of the car, and, please, stay off your cellphones.” If you’d like to join Tony as a traffic volunteer for ABS North or ABS South, please let us know (or just show up!) Thank you, Tony!

Ways to get involved and learn more about ABS:

  • Follow us on Social Media
  • Catch up on Thursday Notes you may have missed
  • Explore the ABS website
  • Make sure we have best contact information so that you receive all communications

Around Town

Make your plans now for the Bookmarks Festival of Books and Authors in downtown Winston-Salem on Saturday, September 24. You can buy your books in advance via the above link.


The Piedmont Youth Chorus will perform songs from "Frozen" at 9:00, before the 9:30 storytime featuring Cara Mentzel and Idina Menzel at the Bookmarks Festival on Sept. 24th at Winston Square Park! It's not too late to join in the fun! Email [email protected] to schedule an audition or to learn more about the Piedmont Youth Chorus.


Don’t miss Mixxer Makerspace’s amazing “Night of Fire,” when you and your student can see workers pour a ton of white hot molten iron into molds made by artists and open-face molds made by the attendees. You can purchase a scratch pad to design your own cast iron piece…it’s easy and fun, but you have to turn them in several days before the event. (Note that there will be semi-nude body-painted “Fire Dancers” at this event.)