ABS Thursday Notes- September 1, 2022

Published for the Arts Based School Community

Sept 1, 2022

No School: Monday, Sept 5 - Labor Day

How We Do It and Why

By Mary Siebert


What researchers are beginning to discover is that singing…both soothes your nerves and elevates your spirits.” – Stacy Horne, Time Magazine, 2013

One spring, my teen daughter and I hulled the gallons of fragrant strawberries we’d picked together. She set herself up with Bluetooth headphones and a movie on her computer, to make the task fly by. I thought about the days of prepping fresh produce with my mom when we sang together in harmony. My immediate family sings non-stop, (including plenty of harmony with my daughter,) so I didn’t protest the high-tech diversion this time. I was just happy to have the help. But I did feel a pang of nostalgia. My mother no longer recognized me then, but she remembered all of those songs to her very last days, and could sing every word.

When we consider progress in terms of technology, most of us think immediately of computers, smart phones, GPS, social media, and the quicksilver innovations of the Age of Information. But for young students, we push much further back. They study technology that transformed stone and clay into shaped tools in the ancient world. Spinning, weaving, agriculture, telescopes, weaponry, the printing press, medical research, all of this is innovation and technology that transformed us. There is also the life-changing technology of radio. Before radio, Americans shared folk songs by gathering on the front porch with instruments, voices, and a heart full of songs and stories. Every story changed as it passed from one storyteller to the next. Every singer sang a distinctly unique version of each song. Well before current research proved the physiological and psychological benefits of singing together, folks were reaping those benefits. The delights of shared singing faded from our culture when radio brought us recordings by master performers. We thrilled to those sounds and quickly began to view the popular versions as the “only” versions. There is a bittersweet side to much of this progress. Just as we lost flavor, nutrition, and the joy of harvest when we moved away from locally grown foods to industrially produced groceries, we lost variety and health benefits when we stopped singing together and allowed the radio to sing for us. 

In the spirit of the front porch, ABS students sing together. We sing in the classroom. We sing in the music room. We sing in theatrical productions. We memorize facts by singing, and at K-4 we gather together once every month, raising our voices in unique ABS arrangements of songs that will last a lifetime. This tradition of Friday Sing sometimes extends through 8th grade in the 7th Street courtyard. One of the major goals of Friday Sing is to preserve and pass along American folk song heritage. We also occasionally choose songs in languages other than English, and delve into world cultures. Songs of celebration, sadness, unity, patriotism, fantasy, nonsense, longing, hope. Songs with which to dance, protest, play, work, sleep, fight, and make peace. We need them all. We hope your children sing them when you hull strawberries together.

First Friday Sing This Week-South Campus

Our first Friday Sing at the new ABS-South campus on Mock Street will be this Friday, September 2nd. Since this is our very first one, we will be singing without visiting family or friends this week, while we work out the logistics in this space. Stay tuned…we hope to welcome visitors at our next one, on September 30th. The first Friday Sing for the ABS-North campus on MLK will be Friday September 16, from 1:50-2:20.

Assistant Principal for the Day

There’s still time to purchase raffle tickets to give your child a chance to be Assistant Principal for the Day! Yes, your child (of any grade level) can serve as Assistant Principal at their campus for an entire day! Assistant Principals have their own desk, name tag, and list of "Principal Duties" for the day! Simply stop by either front office and purchase your raffle tickets ($1/ticket, $5 for 6 tickets). You may also purchase tickets online, and we will fill out the physical tickets for you in our front office. (This form will close at noon on the day of Friday Sing.) Drawings are held each Friday Sing!

Kindergarten Speech Screening 

This is the time of year when ABS begins screening kindergarten students for any speech or language difficulties.  Ms. Mary Jarvis and Ms. Victoria Shull, our speech pathologists, will visit each kindergarten classroom to have a short conversation with each student.  If further testing is required, the parents will be notified.  If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Victoria Shull at [email protected] or Mary Jarvis at [email protected]

Beginning of Grade Test (BOG)

The State Board of Education requires a standardized reading test for all third graders in North Carolina. Third grade students will take the Beginning of Grade (BOG) test in reading. A student’s BOG score will be used as baseline data to measure growth as well as a screening tool to identify those students who will need remediation to pass the End of Grade test. The NC Read to Achieve initiative which requires retention for students who do not pass the Reading EOG at third grade. The test has 42 questions, takes approximately 90 minutes to complete, and is administered online at school. It will be administered on September 1. Testing accommodations will be provided for students with Individualized Education Plans (IEP). Make-up tests will be required for any student that is absent from the regular administration of the test.

Activity Fees

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. Scholarships for the activity fee are available; please contact Angela Garner. You may pay your fee via our secure online form or by sending a check to the school. Thank you!

Reading Tutor Training

ABS will be collaborating with the local non-profit Read, Write, Spell to train reading volunteers to work with students at ABS and in our community. The training is scheduled for September 15 and 16. All training materials are covered. Training hours and tutoring time is counted as ABS volunteer hours. If you would like to participate in this training and student tutoring programming, please complete this interest form. Thanks!

Volunteers Needed!

We are looking for several volunteers to unbox, copy, and organize guided reading materials and book sets at ABS South. The hours are flexible: anytime during school hours in the ABS South media center. If you think this might be for you, please email Leah Lavin. Thank you!

The ABS Book Fair Committee is looking for new chairpersons! 

This may be your ideal ABS volunteer position if you...

- have a passion for books and want to spread the love of reading among our students

- are willing to commit to a 2+ year volunteer position

- want to knock out your volunteer hours during the fall semester

- are detail oriented and organized

Some tasks can be done at home (at any time of day) while some tasks need to be done at school during the school day. (Tasks can be split between the chairpersons.) The Book Fair is held every October and lasts for one week. This year's fair will be held in mid- October. We will have lots of volunteer needs the week of the Book Fair, so stay tuned for more opportunities to help out!

If you are interested, or have questions, please contact Rachel Wilson.

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

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.


The Winston-Salem Girls Chorus is now accepting registrations for fall. More info here!


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.)