ABS Thursday Notes- March 14, 2024

Published for the Arts Based School Community

March 14, 2024



How We Do It and Why

By Mary Siebert

“Appalachian storytelling isn’t a theatrical performance with sets and costumes and lighting and accents, though a good storyteller can conjure all those things in the mind of the listener.” 

 Dave Tabler


The 4th grade “Like a Family” event is named after a renowned collection of first-hand stories from NC mill workers of the ‘20s and ‘30s. Students become familiar with the lives of those workers, whose historic accounts are folded into the script, bringing those characters back to life through theater. This is not a formal performance, but a shared experience focused on the art of Appalachian story-telling and song, and the history of the textile industry in the Piedmont region of North Carolina. It recalls life during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, in the days before radio, when we all participated: telling stories, dancing, singing on front porches, playing instruments, adapting household objects to produce percussion and melody, sewing our own clothing and household linens, creating art from whatever we found around us. And working. Plenty of working.


Students learn about the vibrant cultural mix of people who contributed to establish an influential and unique culture in our state during this time. They explore our state culture through reading, research, maps, visiting artists, and the arts. They do extra “piece work” in class, where they check in each day as if at the mill, learning how to accumulate and save funds by working a little extra. We share our learning with our families in a culminating event that includes dancing to old-time music, student art and sewing exhibitions, music, and storytelling.


Preparation for the storytelling involves extra time with “Mr. Bob” Moyer, who helps students focus on the lifeblood lines of acting: simply telling the story, and truly listening. Students learn traditional tales from Mr. Bob, but they also learn about child labor in the textile mills, and unionizing efforts that followed changes in lifestyle from farming to millwork. Through the famous period photos of Lewis Hine and the written memoirs of folks who were there, students imagine themselves into the mills and act out a scene using quotes from the letters of textile workers. Along with the stories, students will perform some traditional songs from the region, and demonstrate delightful reels, fiddling, hambone rhythms, and will display their hand sewing projects.


Although we have taught this unit for many years with 4th grade, it changes, kaleidoscope fashion, as our personnel change. Our arts specialists all have deep roots in North Carolina. Mary Boudreault, (or “Mrs. B”,) our music teacher, grew up in the Appalachians with extended family, singing and telling stories together. The recently hatched “front porch” segment of our 4th grade event, along with astonishing fiddling from every student in the grade level, are entirely her developments. 


Tahvyea Rains, our dance teacher, grew up in Durham County and also on many acres of her great grandfather’s land in Granville county. She learned complex, elaborate “hambone” rhythms from her grandmother. (Hambone involves patting the knees, thighs, chest, and hands,) and she passes some of these patterns to her students, along with a traditional reel. 


Trish Goldberg grew up in Winston-Salem, and has taken on the truly daunting task of teaching sixty 10-year-olds how to sew. Sharp needles and pins, and threading scores of needles are part of her daily routine. Ms. Trish considers sewing a critical artform for students to learn, especially when they are studying textiles, but she also sees this study as an important exploration in self sufficiency. The students have progressed from helplessness to  threading and knotting their own needles, as they hand-stitch quilted pillows. 


4th Grades “Like a Family” Presentations: Next Week!

4th Grade families are welcome to attend their students’ Like a Family presentations next week in the Ewing Black Box Theater at the ABS-North campus, MLK building. 

Meeks 12:00-12:45 Tuesday, March 19

Robertson 12:00-12:45 Wednesday, March 20

McGarry-Pike 12:00-12:45 Thursday, March 21

Parent Council News

Next PC meeting Monday 3/18 at 5:30pm with reading presentation (MLK Cafe/Zoom)

Reminder to check the lost/found racks and the playground for lost items. Any items not claimed by the end of next week will be donated to a local school in need of coats for students.

School Calendar 2024-25

The ABS board approved the 24-25 student calendar at this week’s meeting.  The first day for students is August 12, 2024.  Thanks for everyone's effort in providing feedback.

Parent Satisfaction Survey


Number of Responses

% Satisfied or 

Very Satisfied

















Survey not conducted-COVID


Parent Remote Learning survey 










March Raffle Winners

Congratulations to our March Assistant Principals for the Day- Joshua Wise Jr and Noah Cruz.   Each will spend a day shadowing the Principal and taking care of the important duties of the day. 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!

Film Camp! Action! (Schools Out Spring Camp!)

This 3-day camp is sure to make spring break creative and fun! Students 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.


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. 


Ways to get involved and learn more about ABS: