ABS Thursday Notes- February 23, 2023

Published for the Arts Based School Community

February 23, 2023

How We Do It and Why

By Mary Siebert

“The golden way is to be friends with the community and to regard the whole human family as one.” – Mahatma Gandhi


Both ABS campuses are located in the center of an arts-rich city. We have developed partnerships with local organizations who contribute to our experience of the community as an extension of the classroom, and as we continue to emerge from the pandemic, we are visiting with them again. Here are just a few examples:


Delta Fine Arts is a small museum less than two miles away, and has partnered with our school since the very first year of our existence. Delta is focused on (but not restricted to) the artwork of regional African American artists. We are currently preparing to visit their quilt exhibit with our 4th graders, who are quilting, themselves.


SECCA (The Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art.) With ever-changing exhibits of local and national artists, SECCA is uncommonly welcoming to students. On-site lessons, performances, attendance at exhibits, staff meetings off site, meetings with artists, and even exhibitions of our students’ work are all part of our relationship with this generous organization. Our 8th graders are visiting their current exhibit this week, and we’ll be performing “Brundibar” there with 7th grade in April.


UNCSA (The University of North Carolina School of the Arts.) We have partnered with each department at UNCSA and are inspired every year by their dynamic students and faculty, who generously lift us up with their energy and expertise. Dancers, musicians, film makers, visual artists, actors, general studies students, and professors from all these departments have learned and created together with us. The possibilities are endless.


The Hispanic Arts Initiative. This organization brought us musicians, dancers, lecturers, and artists. They advised us in authentic dance and costume design, built costumes for us, found us a Mariachi band, suggested curricular materials, and participated in our fundraiser. Although they recently disbanded, their impact on us is a lasting one.


Reynolda House. Our students tour this local treasure annually. We often design our own tour, based on current studies at each grade level, and the Reynolda staff has supported our creative ideas, even crafting activities to support them. We walk their wooded trails, picnic on the lawn, stroll through the gardens, visit the grand home interior, attend special exhibits, and focus on permanent collection pieces that fit into specific studies.


The Winston-Salem Symphony. We attend youth concerts at the symphony whenever they correspond with our schedule. The conductors have visited, symphony players have performed and worked with our students, and the Wind Quintet, which originated at the Symphony with Conductor Emeritus Peter Perret, has visited our school every year since our inception, not including Covid restricted years.


Wake Forest University. Our students have both toured and been interviewed at Wake’s WFDD public radio station, whose David Ford has participated in our fundraiser, and is a current board member.  ABS students have visited or been visited by the Museum of Anthropology every year, borrowing trunks of objects that support learning about far-flung cultures of the world. We have visited the Hanes Gallery, (and expect to again, this fall,) performed in Wait Chapel and Brendle Hall, worked with Wake film students, and visited the library. We’ve been repeatedly inspired by visiting musical and dance faculty and students from WFU.


Bookmarks. Our relationship with this fresh and popular literary arts organization includes visits from authors, who read to us, draw for us, sign books for us, and share insights about writing. Their annual festival attracts abundant ABS families. In 2018 our students visited the BB&T Ballpark to meet author Dav Pilkey (along with 2,000 other students,) and this year, through Bookmarks, we had a personal and exclusive visit from Idina Mezel. Principal Paige Raper served on the Bookmarks board of directors until rotating off, this year.


Winston Salem State University. The astonishing Burke Singers visit us almost every year, crafting their performances to fit the ages of the students in the audience, and sharing glorious music as well as important lessons about race and history. We have visited the treasured murals of John Biggers at the WSSU library, attended performances on campus, and visited Diggs Gallery. We also host many student teachers from WSSU.


A/perture Cinema. This beloved art films theater downtown has hosted us many a time, to see our own 6th grade film premieres in an intimate cinema, or attend a special movie related to the studies of other grades.


Salem College. The lovely little gallery in the Salem College Fine Arts Center is often host to works that are just right for our students to visit. One memorable visit was to the works of Kevin Calhoun, an ABS dad and frequent donor to our Community Creates fundraiser. We paired that with a quick organ concert by Salem professor Timothy Olson in the adjoining Shirley Recital Hall. The Bach and the Calhoun had similarities that the students could compare and write about.


Piedmont Opera. Piedmont Opera sends singers from UNCSA’s Fletcher Opera Institute each year, to perform for our K-2 students. With 7th or 8th grade students we often attend “Student Night at the Opera” when the story is appropriate for these grades.


Little Theatre of Winston-Salem. This great community theater organization is now in its 88th year! We wait and watch with excitement each spring as announcements are made about the upcoming season. We hope each year to find just the right play for our kids to attend during student performances, and our students often perform there.


RiverRun Film Festival. Here’s another organization who changes student offerings each year. When the new invitation arrives, we check the content of the film against our curriculum and find just the right match for students to attend.


Old Salem. Visits to this treasured Moravian village, which marks our city’s beginnings, is a favorite field trip for several grades. Old Salem recently marked its 250th anniversary! We also make annual visits to Home Moravian Church, to learn about organ pipes and hear a great demonstration for our integrated science-of-sound and music studies. 


Mural Walks and Trade Street Galleries

From time to time, we lead a walking tour of downtown public murals. Now and then there is a gallery show in one of the small Trade Street galleries or DADA that is just right to add to the walking tour. Sometimes we host visiting artists from the elegant Piedmont Craftsmen gallery. And if you attend “Gallery Hop” on first Fridays in downtown Winston-Salem, you are sure to meet many friends from ABS.


Mixxer Community Makerspace is a relatively new neighbor and friend, right across the street. Alan Shelton, Mixxer’s founder, gifted us with the tailor-made plexiglass screens at both of our reception desks when we needed them during Covid restrictions, and a few years ago our 6th graders participated in the dramatic “iron pour” at Mixxer, watching as iron changed from red hot liquid to heavy solid.


There are more! Our hope is to acquaint our students with the rich arts resources in their community, so that they feel “This is for me!” when they pass by or walk in. We are lucky to be where we are, right in the center of the action.

Staffing Update

I’m delighted to announce New Principal Assignments for both ABS campuses. 

Yvonne Leab: Principal ABS North Ms. Leab has spent the year at ABS North in the assistant principal position.   She taught 6th grade at ABS, beginning nine years ago. After completing required schooling and an internship with Ms. Hollis and Mrs. Raper to gain her admin certificate, she worked as an administrator in both Moore Elementary and Vienna Elementary, before returning to her ABS home.

Sherell McArthur: Principal ABS South Ms. Sherell left the classroom last year to serve as Assistant Principal at the South campus. She first joined us twelve years ago, as a teaching assistant. She also completed her admin certificate and interned with Ms. Hollis, and after eight years of full-time teaching at 1st grade, and serving as assistant principal, she is again stepping into a new role. 

Robin Hollis will continue in her role as Charter School Director, supporting the continuity and continued success of both campuses.

Mary Siebert will continue for one more year before her retirement as Arts Director, also serving both campuses in developing the arts programming.

Conference Time is Coming

Soon your child’s teacher will be setting up conferences to discuss your child’s progress.  Students attending the Arts Based School are assessed using a portfolio system in place of the traditional report card.  The portfolio is designed to illustrate a student’s academic growth and successes as well as guide the teacher in planning appropriate instruction.  Teachers at ABS do not issue letter grades until 6th grade. Teachers use observation, interviews, analysis of student work and performance tasks to assess student understanding.  Examples of student work, as well as other objective standards of assessments are incorporated into the student’s portfolio to give an enhanced portrait of the student’s progress.  These portfolios will be discussed and presented to parents during the Student-Teacher-Parent conferences. Please be sure you schedule and attend your conference so that you can support your child’s learning. 

Conference Days

  • March 3- Early Dismissal
    • K-4 Dismiss at 11:45
    • 5-8 Dismiss at 12 noon
  • March 6 No School

Yay for Books!

$200 for each classroom teacher.  Thanks Kristin and Scholastic Book Fair folks and all our families participate in the book fair! Ordered and delivered into your child’s classroom!

Parent Satisfaction Survey

It’s the last week to submit your opinion on the school survey.  We want to know what you think! Please follow the link ArtsBasedSchoolsurvey to a 10-question online survey about our school. Your responses are completely anonymous and help us determine what's working well and what needs more work! Please take a few minutes to complete and submit. Thank you!

Parent Council Meeting

Thanks to the many parents who joined us on the February Parent Council meeting.  Here’s the recording if you would like to review.  Also, Parent Council Meeting minutes are available on our school website in the parent portal.

Forsyth Humane Society Donations!

The Arts Based School K-Kids group is collecting donations for the Forsyth Humane Society. K-Kids will be collecting goods during morning drop off tomorrow, February 17th and February 24th. There will also be a general collection box located in the MLK building cafe and the ABS South front office. If you are interested in donating, please send the goods to school on February 17th and February 24th! Thank you!

The Forsyth Humane Society is interested in receiving the following items: 

Cat Food (wet or dry)

Dog Food (wet or dry)

Kitten Food (wet or dry)

Puppy Food (wet or dry)

Kitten Formula

Cat Litter



Set-Moving Volunteer Opportunity

Volunteers are needed to move sets, props and costumes! You are invited to log double volunteer hours for set-moving tasks. Next opportunity:

-Friday February 24, 3:00-4:00 p.m.

If you can help with this, please sign up HERE. We will meet in the Ewing Theater at ABS North. Thank you!!



Assistant Principal for the Day

Does your child want a chance to be Assistant Principal for the day? We hold drawings every month at Friday Sing! You can purchase raffle tickets online or in the front office of your campus to give your child a chance to be Assistant Principal of the Day. Assistant Principals have their own desk, name tag, and list of very important duties for the day. All proceeds from the raffle support our teacher appreciation fund and allow us to do special things for our staff throughout the year. Thank you, and good luck!

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 posted on the ABS website (www.artsbasedschool.com).

Around Town

Reynolds High School’s production of The Wizard of Oz is coming in March! Follow the link at the end of this announcement to purchase tickets, and please help spread the word. The Munchkins are representing several schools, including ABS, The Downtown School and Meadowlark, and they are working hard!  https://gofan.co/app/school/NC1938?activity=Performing%20Arts

Camp Oonie Koonie Cha is an early childhood music camp that blends a variety of musical experiences with art, instrument construction, science, dramatic play, xylophone orchestra, and a final performance.  Do you have a 4 to 8 year old?  Camp OKC is a great way to start the summer.  Camp is Monday-Friday 9am-12pm with an option for lunch bunch.  

Go to www.campokc.com to learn more.  Registration is open now. 

Saturday Youth Ping Pong at Miller Park

Saturday youth ping pong sessions are open at Miller Park Community Center 12:00pm - 1:30pm.