ABS Thursday Notes- August 31, 2023

Published for the Arts Based School Community

August 31, 2023


No School Monday, September 4- Labor Day


How We Do It and Why

By Mary Siebert


“The only thing better than singing is more singing.” - Ella Fitzgerald


Last weekend, a friend dreamily recalled how her Appalachian family made music on the front porch together. Her grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins would regularly gather on the weekends to sing old songs and play instruments together. In my own family, we sang while doing chores or driving long distances in the car. It was a fun, unifying activity that made the miles fly by. Years later, I sang the same songs with my elderly mother. She didn’t remember who I was, then. But she could sing every word of those songs…in harmony. There’s something magical about singing together.


In the spirit of the front porch, singing together is an established K-4 tradition at ABS. We enjoy a community sing-along one Friday of each month. Singing provides a meaningful way to explore cultures, seasons, important events and celebrations, as well as a shared heritage of folk and children’s songs. Friday Sing sends students home for the weekend in high spirits. This tradition has been with us since we started the school. 


For the first five or six years, our sing-alongs went unnoticed by parents. It was usually just me with my guitar, and teachers singing along with their students. Sometimes we’d bring in a guest artist to join us and twice, Rhiannon Giddens joined us for Friday Sing. (No kidding! We knew her first.) Eventually we had music teachers who joined up front as song leaders. As the school grew, word got around that Friday Sing was a moving, fun experience to observe, and parents began to attend.


Even throughout the quarantine, we kept Friday Singing. At first, we used apps that allowed us to video one person at home, forward to another, and add a harmonizing fellow singer…up to six people. Our teachers chimed in, from their homes. Further into the pandemic, ABS parent and sound engineer Bill Stevens arranged for us to broadcast live from Ovation Sound Studio, with each of us in separate rooms, where we could sing together without sharing the same air.


When we returned from the pandemic, we sang with no guests. Bit by bit, we returned to Friday Sings with parents attending. Last year, we found that we’d reached a tipping point…so many parents were attending that the theater was overflowing. We tried separating into two sings: one for K-2 and another for 3-4, but it was a bummer. The kids and staff missed singing all together.


The major goals of Friday Sing are to gather as a student body to sing, and to preserve and pass along American folk song heritage. For several years, it became a meeting point for parents too. But we must regretfully return to the days of Friday Sing as a students-only event.


We know many parents will miss sharing Friday Sing in person.  We are working on a solution to provide a live stream or video access.  We’ll keep you posted.


Assistant Principal for the Day-Coming soon!

Does your child want a chance to be Assistant Principal for the day? We hold drawings every month at Friday Sing! 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!  Raffle tickets for Assistant Principal of the Day are available for purchase online at www.MyMealOrder.com


Field Trips Coming Soon!

Soon our students will be heading into the community on field trips.  Your child’s teacher will keep you posted on when and where, but all students must have a completed Field Trip Permission Form to participate.  If you have not completed this form for this school year, please do asap!  Thanks!


News from Parent Council

Please join us for the first Parent Council meeting of the school year on Friday, September 15 at 8:15 in the MLK Cafe at North Campus.  All ABS parents, families, and caregivers are part of Parent Council and are welcome to attend!   If you would like to submit a topic for the agenda, please send an e-mail to Parent Council Katy Whiteheart by Friday, September 8.  We look forward to seeing you there!


Parent Council is looking for a co-secretary. If interested contact Katy Whiteheart or Lydia Ingram.


Save the date for Fall Fest, Saturday, 10/14.  Be on the lookout for more info and volunteer opportunities.   


Flu Season and COVID

Although COVID is no longer considered a pandemic it is still here, contagious, and infecting our community.  Amy Johnson, the Charter School Health Nurse consultant advises us to to refer families to the current CDC guidance link.   As will any illness, if someone is feeling sick or has a fever, they should stay home and follow all advice from their healthcare provider.


As you know, flu and COVID can be easily spread from person to person.  We are asking for your help in reducing the spread of infectious disease at  ABS.  The symptoms for the seasonal flu and COVID are similar: fever of 100 degrees or more, cough, sore throat, runny nose, body aches, headache, and feeling very tired.  Students with these symptoms will be sent home.

You can help us by taking these simple steps:

  • Teach children to wash their hands often.
  • Teach your children not to share food or drink.
  • Teach children to cough or sneeze into their elbows to avoid spreading germs.
  • Keep sick children home.
  • Children must be fever-free for 24 hrs before returning to school.
  • Get the flu vaccine and COVID booster for you and your children.


Don’t Be Late!

School begins at 8:15am.  Students should arrive at school between 7:45 and 8:10.    Students are counted tardy if they’re not in their classroom at 8:15am. The student entrance is locked at 8:15 a.m. After 8:15 a.m., parents must park and escort their child(ren) to the front office entrance and sign in.


Charter School Renewal

Charter schools are public schools of choice that are authorized by the State Board of Education and operated by independent non-profit boards of directors. State and local tax dollars are the primary funding sources for charter schools, which have open enrollment and cannot discriminate in admissions, associate with any religion or religious group, or charge tuition. Charter schools operate with freedom from many of the regulations that govern district schools, but charter schools are held accountable through state assessment and accountability systems.  The Arts Based School is a charter school starting its twenty-second year of operation.  Our current charter expires in June 2025.  We will apply for a ten-year renewal as we have in the past.   The renewal process takes a full year and includes a self-study, a site visit, and loads of paperwork.  It’s a wonderful opportunity to share our successes with the Office of Charter School, the Dept of Public Instruction, and the State Board of Education.

Ways to get involved and learn more about ABS: