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Dancing Stories

Fourth graders try their hands at playing African instruments such as shekeres, djembe drums and gankoguis.

East Elementary students’ focus on Black History Month culminated with a special celebration program, “Dancing Stories”, on Thursday, February 27, 2014. Mrs. Amy Jackson, the general music teacher at East, organized the program and arranged for a visit by special guest performer and literary artist, April Turner.
The program was performed twice to accommodate different grade levels. During each program, the students learned about African storytelling through the use of drumming and dancing. The students learned that there is a dance for just about every event in African life! The dances, stories, songs, and rhythms bring people together. Students in Ms. Clark’s fourth grade class, led by Jackson, opened up the program by performing an African lullaby entitled, “Allunde Alluia.” The students performed the song using African drums and shekeres purchased through a grant awarded to Jackson by the Union County Community Arts Council.
Guest presenter, April Turner, shared her experiences during the program and demonstrated African principles such as working together, honesty, and perseverance. She also had the students participate in dance from their seats and even brought students on stage play African instruments such as shekeres, djembe drums, and gankoguis. The entire auditorium was used to display decorative African masks and paintings based on famous African artwork made by students in art teacher Erin Hare’s art classes.
Jackson began planning the program, the details, and the guest performance during the Winter Break. Says Jackson,”I feel that with our population of students at East Elementary School, Black History Month is especially important. Through learning about and connecting to their heritage, the students gain a sense of identity that is vital to their success as 21st century learners and contributing members of society.” After much correspondence with April Turner, and building on lessons she had already taught students in music class relating to Black History Month, everyone was able to come together the day of the program for a meaningful and inspirational learning experience.

Written by: Amy Jackson, Music Teacher
Posted: Mar 11, 2014 by Lisa Moniz

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