“Boom-da-boom-da-da-boom” the drum echoed in the Timothy L. Johnson Academy classroom.
“Boom-da-boom-da-da-boom” the students repeated, each striking their djembe – a skin-covered goblet-shaped drum played with bare hands – with ease.
Each Thursday and Friday, academy students take a break from class to try their hands at music, in hopes that it will inspire some creativity and a connection to their heritage.
The sessions are led by Ketu Oladuwa, artistic director of Three Rivers Institute of Afrikan Arts and Culture.
On Friday, a group of seventh-grade students practiced tones and patterns with Oladuwa as he sang along.
De-Janae Ellis, 12, said she looks forward to her lessons with Oladuwa.
“There are some challenges. I have trouble when he plays a different pattern at the same time. It’s hard to keep my pattern,” De-Janae said.
Her classmate, Ahmad Thomas, said he struggles with keeping his hands and arms relaxed – a key to playing his djembe.
Ahmad, 12, explained that it’s best to use the palm of the hand and it’s important to avoid hitting the fingers too hard on the surface because it can hurt.
“The drum is the vehicle that gives the students access to their African identity,” Oladuwa said, explaining that the classes are in part about making music, but more about connecting to culture.
•YWCA Northeast Indiana recently received a $2,000 donation from the Payless Gives Shoes 4 Kids program to allow the group to distribute merchandise certificates for children’s shoes to YWCA clients with children.
•Kaitlyn Schmidt, a senior at Manchester University and a native of Allen County, was one of five students nationwide to receive a $2,000 scholarship from the American Proficiency Institute. Schmidt is studying medical laboratory science.
•Emanuel Beer of Leo-Cedarville has been nominated to the U.S. Naval Academy by Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind. A decision on admission will be made by the academy.
•Meridian Prall, a Homestead High School senior, recently auditioned through the University of Toledo’s voice professor, Denise Ritter Bernardini, for world-renowned opera singer, Marilyn Horne. Through this audition process, Meridian was one of only four students invited by Horne to audition for her voice programs in California and New York.
•Huntington University recently inducted 20 new members into the Indiana Beta Chapter of Alpha Chi. The inductees include Chelsea August of Columbia City; Luke Batdorff of Bluffton; Ester Higginbottom of Bluffton; and Katie Stetzel of Roanoke.
•DeLois McKinley-Eldridge, a civil rights activist who participated in the 1963 demonstrations for desegregation, will speak at the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day service at Huntington University. The program will begin at 11:30 a.m. Monday in the Zurcher Auditorium of the Merillat Centre for the Arts. The public is encouraged to attend.
•Timothy McElwee, a 1978 Manchester University peace studies and religion alumnus, was recently named vice president for university advancement. McElwee previously served as vice president for advancement at Manchester until 2003 when he left the position to lead Manchester’s Peace Studies Institute.
•John W. Gilmore, senior vice president and chief operating officer for Princeton Theological Seminary in New Jersey and Richard P. Teets Jr., co-founder, executive vice president for steelmaking, president and chief operating officer of steel operations for Steel Dynamics Inc., recently joined the board of trustees at Manchester University. D. Randall Brown, managing partner with Barnes & Thornburg in Fort Wayne, was also named board chair.
•Martin Garcia, a sophomore chemistry major at Manchester University, is one of 31 students statewide recognized this year for “Realizing the Dream.” Independent Colleges of Indiana gave him $2,000 to support his Manchester education.
•Trine students, faculty and staff are looking for service projects that can be performed on Martin Luther King Day or any time during that week. Nonprofit groups or organizations in need of help should contact Lindsey Hofmeyer, Trine director of student leadership and service, at 665-4147 or firstname.lastname@example.org.