ABS Thursday Notes- February 22, 2024

Published for the Arts Based School Community

February 22, 2024


How We Do It and Why

By Mary Siebert

“Go hence to have more talk of these sad things. 

 For never was a story of more woe 

 than this of Juliet and her Romeo.”

 - William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

The 5th grade production of Romeo & Juliet on the Border is twelve years old, this year. We have performed an original Shakespeare adaptation every year of the school’s existence. Having experimented with several different ideas, this one settled in and has stuck around for a while. 

I invented and wrote this adaptation, after noticing how much the students enjoyed the historic cowboy songs unit that I taught every year. I decided to set the famous story on the border of Texas and Mexico in the year 1900. The students helped translate Shakespeare into cowboy lingo, but we left some of the iconic original language in place. It is punctuated throughout with historic songs and dances from both sides of the border.

Of course the arguments around that border are still painful and contemporary. We still associate the Mexican border with intolerance, hope, and fear, with challenges of resolving differences and sustaining peace. Shakespeare nailed the thematic problem of violent human rivalry challenged by innocent love 430 years ago, and we still find that theme applicable to our contemporary lives. So it’s human, and it’s still true.

The setting of the American “Wild West” adds potential for a lot of 5th grade humor. I can testify that there are two direct ways to a 5th grader’s heart: humor and justice. They want to laugh, and they want things to be fair. This story captivates them from both angles. There are opportunities for beginning stage combat, for acting tough, for boots and hats and bandannas. But there is also the challenge of playing serious moments; moments of love and tragedy, which are elemental to both real life and to theater.

The Hispanic Arts Initiative, an organization no longer in existence, advised and assisted in creating this production, ensuring cultural accuracy of music, dance, and costumes. These are not just “Mexican” details, they are specifically Northern Mexican from the late 1900s. The fabric of the brightly colored skirts was shipped from Mexico, and Mexican stitchers built them. It is dazzling to see our students swishing those brightly colored skirts and to hear them singing in their tentative Spanish. So although the fun and the emotion appeal to students,this show has elements of romance and color that also captivate the audience.

Every year, we reexamine whether the material is too mature for 5th graders, especially the tragic ending with double suicides. And every year, schools are urged to help young students learn more about how to ask for help, how to focus on hope and avoid despair. In 2021, the CDC reported that suicide was the 2nd leading cause of death among children ages 10-14. Unthinkable. So there is no turning aside from this, instead we are mandated to provide our children with tools to help themselves, to recognize danger signs in their peers, to tell an adult who can help. With the introduction of the story, we include lessons from our school counselor about how to seek help for you or your friend, how to recognize signs of despair, and how to practice self-care.

To explore an important topic like this through theater, in addition to direct instruction, is to enhance meaning and increase retention. The students now know and love these characters. They feel the story. Reading or listening can never teach what embodying the characters and empathetically experiencing their emotions does. They will never forget this experience, this great fun, these deep lessons.

Romeo & Juliet on the Border

Remaining 5th grade performances for friends and family:

Johnson’s Class - February 22, 12:00 

Tate’s Class - February 23, 12:00


Tap Shoes Donations Needed

The Rap-A-Tap-Tap Initiative is here! Our Kindergarteners will start their tap unit in April and we are looking for donations of tap shoes from sizes 11 to 2 in kids' shoes. If you have old tap shoes or wish to donate, please bring them to Ms. Lauren, Dance Teacher at South or Ms. Rains, Dance Teacher at North.

Clean Classrooms for Carolina Kids (CCCK)

ABS is participating in the state’s effort to ensure all schools are free from lead and asbestos through the Clean Classrooms for Carolina Kids program.  The state is provided free testing and if necessary remediation for all public schools.  We have begun the process by identifying all taps used for drinking and/or cooking preparation within the ABS-North campus.  We collected samples from these taps and sent them to the state for processing.  We expect to receive our test results soon and will keep families and staff informed of the process and next steps.  The ABS-South campus is leased from WSFC which will conduct the testing.  For more information, visit  www.cleanwaterforuskids.com/carolina

2024 ABS Summer Camps

Registration is now OPEN for Summer Camps! Please follow the link below to register. Click on the title of the camp that you would like to register for and fill out the Google Form. Invoices will be sent following registration to secure your spots! Check out the updated FAQ!
2024 ABS Summer Camp Registration

 Contact Ashley Tate at [email protected] with any questions. 


Parent Satisfaction Survey

Only one week left to add your voice to the 2024 Parent Satisfaction 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!


Assistant Principal Raffle

We hold drawings every month at Friday Sing! You can purchase raffle tickets online 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!


Yearbook Orders!

It's time. Please place your order for yearbooks. Envelopes have been sent home; however, you can easily order online as well.

Website: www.strawbridge.net

Order Code: YB29376

Cost: $25

This year's book will include both campuses.

School Calendar 2024-25

The ABS Board of Directors is considering the school calendar for 2024-25.   The WSFC school board adopted a significantly different calendar with an earlier start date and spring break in March.  In response to these changes,  the School Leadership team has created additional calendar options for ABS.   Please review and consider these options and provide your feedback here.  Thanks!

Updated Version 1

Updated Version 2

Updated Version 3


News from Parent Council

PC Council February meeting recording and minutes  

PC Meeting Feb 16, 2024 recording

 PC Meeting Minutes 02/16/2024  


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).


Spring Break camp at ABS

Film Camp! Action!  

This 3-day camp is sure to make spring break creative and fun! Students  (Grades 5-8) will learn the basics of acting in front of the camera but also the work that goes into being behind the lens of the camera. Students will create a short film by the end of the camp, using a green screen, their own script and storyboard, props, and of course acting.  Register here.

Monday-Wednesday, 9-2pm, April 1st-3rd 2024


Around Town…

Delta Arts Center Black History Month Celebration

This Sunday, February 25 at 3:00 visit Delta Arts Center for a FREE Black History celebration including Otesha Creative Arts Ensemble, African Djembe Percussion Ensemble, and Deeply Black the Griot. 

Ways to get involved and learn more about ABS: