ABS Thursday Notes- September 8, 2022

Published for the Arts Based School Community

Sept 8, 2022

How We Do it and Why

by Mary Siebert

If you have never tried African drumming, you should. The first time you’re faced with the challenge of sitting down at a drum circle, you might feel that you don’t have the skills or background to participate. But that is one of the beauties of African drumming: you will succeed right at entry level, and there’s the possibility of a lifetime of growth in artistry. And it feels great!

When kindergarten students first walk into a room to find a circle of beautiful djembe and ashiko drums waiting at every chair, they don’t experience the fear of failure that adults do. They are simply struck with hope: “Is this for me?” Everyone wants to play a drum! When they sit down at a drum, they’re in heaven. And by the end of the very first class, they have experienced the thrill of playing in ensemble, supported by the booming expertise of the teachers on the big dunun drums. 

Bill Scheidt has taught African drumming at ABS for eighteen of our twenty years. In this time his local company, Tam Tam Mandingue Djembe Academy, has grown dramatically. “Mr. Bill” is not only in demand at drumming residencies around the country, but also internationally. He and his associates have introduced the djembe to small collections of five-year-olds, and also to vast assemblies of corporate leaders, but his roots are in his studies with his mentor and dear friend, Mamady Keita, a master drummer from Guinea. Bill made many extended visits to Guinea to master his art, and was adopted as part of Mamady’s family. Sadly, he passed away in 2021, but not before he’d shared the beauty and excitement of his art and culture, founding the Tam Tam Mandingue school, world-wide.

We are fortunate that Mr. Bill often teaches our students in person. Students and staff are delighted by his powerfully positive energy and his inspirational skills both in drumming and teaching. This year, Tam Tam Mandingue also brings us the dynamic Kenzi Presswood, a drummer with a teaching background in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools and jubilant energy to match Mr. Bill’s. Kenzi has been a coworker with Bill for years, and teamed up with him when they taught our staff development last year. 

Drumming students work with rhythms from simple counting to complex, layered, traditional songs. This internal understanding of rhythm assists children with patterning and grouping in math. There is obviously an important social studies connection to African culture, but in addition there are proven health benefits, such as strengthened immunization and stress relief, from group African drumming. 

We bring African drumming workshops to every student in the school, K-8. We’ll begin next week, with first grades and kindergartens at the ABS-South campus. 5th-8th graders will drum the following week, and K-4 at the ABS-North campus will drum the week of October 17. Time to make a joyful noise!

Household Income Survey        

Every year the Arts Based School applies for federal and state grants that help fund the education we provide to our students. The survey provides vital information to determine how much funding we are eligible to receive from State and Federal sources. This information also allows us to provide assistance to families with free/reduced lunches and other financial support. Please take a few minutes to complete this form today.

BOG Results 

Congratulations to our third grade students and teachers for completing this year’s Beginning of Grade reading test.  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. BOG results are coming home today in Thursday Packets.

MAP testing begins

ABS uses Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) to assess each student’s academic growth. We will give students in grades 3-8 MAP tests to determine each child’s instructional level and to measure academic growth throughout the school year, and from year to year in the areas of math and reading. Students take the tests on a computer. MAP tests are unique in that they adapt to be appropriate for your child’s level of learning. As a result, each student has the same opportunity to succeed and maintain a positive attitude toward testing. And with MAP tests, we can administer shorter tests and use less class time while still receiving detailed, accurate information about your child’s growth. 


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]

After School Band

Parents of 6th, 7th, and 8th graders will be receiving a letter about after school beginning band workshops! More details and sign up information are available on the clubs page of our website.

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!

Volunteer Thanks!!

We don’t know what we would do without our AMAZZZZZING Pizzzzza Friday volunteers! At our MLK building, Rosemary Hahn, Bill and Sherry Beasley, and Allison Simpson regularly dedicate their Friday mornings to making sure that no child who ordered pizza will go pizza-less. Thank you all for your hard work and good humor! 

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!


Winston-Salem Theatre Alliance is presenting Disney’s Beauty and the Beast September 16-17 & 23-25. The cast has several ABS students, recent alums, and parents in it too! Purchase tickets at https://www.theatrealliance.ws/box_office/