Dr. Weeks, Henninger Students Learn About World Cultures Through the Arts
Published on 3/8/16
District News Dr Weeks Elementary School Henninger High School
As Biboti Ouikahilo finished demonstrating a traditional African song on the drums—and corresponding dance—a Henninger student inquired, “Would your family sing this together?”
“Our whole community would sing this,” Biboti, Executive Director of Wacheva Cultural Arts Center, explained. “This is a song that we would perform at celebrations.”
Thanks to a grant proposal written by Dr. Weeks music teacher Mary Juman and funding from the SCSD Educational Foundation, students at Henninger and Dr. Weeks had the unique opportunity to experience music and world cultures in a new way.
In this World Drumming program, a group of 25 students at Henninger and 25 students at Dr. Weeks work together and participate in clinics taught by quest artists. In November, the Henninger Drum Club visited Dr. Weeks, helping the younger students learn in an introductory African drumming session. In February, the high school students returned, working alongside Biboti in a longer session on African drumming and dance.
Later in the year, students will be visited by members of Samba Laranga, Syracuse University’s Brazilian Ensemble. Closing the school year, Dr. Weeks students will travel to Henninger to perform with the high school students in a culminating event to show off the skills they learned throughout the year.
“The best part about this grant is that allows students to have new musical experiences that I can't give them in the music classroom,” Ms. Juman explained. “It expands their understanding of the world and hopefully encourages them to feel that the possibilities for their future are endless.”
Students said that both objectives are being achieved. Henninger freshman Frankie Vigilotti-Martinez explained, “It’s interesting to learn about the African culture and where the music came from.”
“They’re very traditional,” sophomore Kevin Littlejohn added. “I’d like to learn more about their culture. But working with the younger kids is great. We’ve taught them how to keep a beat and stuff. It’s good to be a role model and teach them new things!”
For younger students, learning a new instrument was a highlight in and of itself.
“We have been learning about the base and the tone and how to play songs on the drums,” fifth grader Sara Ali explained. “They are pretty cool, because they have a strong beat!”
Thank you to Ms. Juman and Henninger music teacher Andrea Akins for bringing world cultures to our SCSD students through this exciting program! Thanks to the SCSD Educational Foundation, this is is one of 19 projects funded in 14 schools this year, totaling $50,000. The SCSD Educational Foundation has funded more than $750,000 in SCSD projects since 2003.