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School District No. 57 (Prince George)
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News Item

Buckhorn students drum up a fine performance

May 23, 2019


May 23, 2019 --

This teaching moment sure made an impact. Numerous impacts, in fact.

Kindergarten to Grade 7 students at Buckhorn Elementary School participated in an Indigenous drumming and singing performance in the school gymnasium on Tuesday, May 21. Students started learning in a classroom setting in October about the cultural significance of Indigenous drumming and singing. Actual drumming and singing was incorporated into the lesson plan and Tuesday's show – held in front of peers, family, friends and community members – marked the culmination of all the work invested into the musical project.

"Bringing drumming and singing into the schools is really important," said Dana Schwenning, School District No. 57 Aboriginal Education Worker for Buckhorn and Hixon elementary schools. "It's important that our students learn about traditional ways when it comes to drumming protocols and also singing traditional songs. It's one of the best ways of learning – we can read about it in a textbook but when you are doing it, it takes on a whole new importance to the students."

The students received drumming and singing training from Patricia Lunden, Youth Leadership Foci with the district's Aboriginal Education Department. Lunden also taught them about drum protocols and the permission that is given to share the songs.

During the show – the first public performance for the students – Lunden was a guiding influence for her pupils, drumming and singing along from the back of the gym. She and the audience saw six classes do five songs (two classes teamed up to perform one of the songs).

"They did amazing," a smiling and proud Lunden said in reference to all the students.

In total, 128 students – Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal – took part in the Indigenous drumming and singing program at Buckhorn.

"It has value when everybody learns," Schwenning said. "If we're just teaching a certain group of students it doesn't have value to the entire class. And that's part of reconciliation, that we share our culture with all people so all people can learn to respect it."

The program epitomized School District No. 57's Strategic Plan in several ways, including experiential learning, inclusivity, equitable access and a dynamic approach to teaching and learning.

Lunden and two colleagues from the Aboriginal Education Department, Angela Sanderson and Fanny Peterson, made the drums last May and June. The sticks that became handmade drumsticks came from Ferguson Lake, just north of Prince George.

This school year, Lunden has taken the drums and drumsticks to several schools in the district. One of them was Glenview Elementary, where a Kindergarten/Grade 2 class performed at the December concert. Those same students will do a song at Glenview's year-end assembly.

"I've been very busy going to a lot of schools," Lunden said.

"Starting this year, this is when we came up with the idea of going into classrooms, teaching drum protocol, teaching (students) a song."