Grant brings African culture to Brooklyn Park

Neighbors

April 23, 2000|By Christina Bittner | Christina Bittner,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

A GROUP OF 72 fourth- and sixth-grade pupils at Brooklyn Park Elementary School has completed an ambitious weeklong study of the cultures of West Africa.

Made possible by a grant from the Cultural Arts Foundation of Anne Arundel County, the study was led by Kevin Campbell, a faculty member at the University of Maryland, College Park. The pupils explored African art, dance, dress and music.

Pupils learned bead-making, clothing construction, dance and making musical instruments. They made instruments such as drums and shakers, as well as lesser-known African instruments like the bellaphone and rain sticks.

Kim Spanos-Telsing, the school's library media specialist, explained the different instruments. "Bellaphones are like a marimba. Rain sticks were made out of cardboard and decorated."

The enthusiasm surprised the library director and the children. "Most never knew how to use a sewing machine, and there they were sewing. I kept hearing, `Look, I'm sewing!" she said.

School volunteer Vera McCullough also was surprised. "I walked past the room where they were rehearsing and thought, `Wow!' Then I saw them ironing their costumes. I had to get the video camera for that. I thought, `Their parents have to see this. I bet they didn't know that their children could iron.' "

"The drumming echoes throughout the building," Telsing said. "People walk by and say how cool it is. Other kids are interested and even parents who are in the building stop by to see what is going on."

At the end of the week, the 72 children demonstrated their skills for the rest of the school.

Telsing said the study complemented lessons in class. "The fourth grade studies Kenya and the sixth grade studies ancient cultures. It was a good fit for these grades."

The 72 students were chosen for a number of reasons. "The teachers chose those that they felt would benefit from the program. Gifted and talented students as well as those with learning difficulties were chosen. Each learns in different ways," she said.

Telsing said she applied for the grant in the fall. She feels that these types of arts programs are essential to the learning process.

"It allows the students to see different kinds of teachers. People may say that dance isn't academic. But how a child learns by using a different part of their brain is important. They're using the other parts of their brains that usually don't get tapped," she said.

Telsing said the program was so successful that she plans to apply for additional grants.

Spiritual revival

"Come Join Us and Be Blessed" will be the theme as St. John United Methodist Church holds its Holy Spirit Revival at 7: 30 p.m. Thursday and Friday.

Guest revivalist will be the Rev. Russell Johnson of Brown's Memorial Baptist Church in Baltimore.

The youth choir of Community Baptist Church of Patapsco Park will perform on Thursday and the Brown's Memorial choir will sing Friday.

On April 30, St. John's will celebrate Heritage Sunday at the 11 a.m. service, featuring a visit by the Western Shore Singing and Praying Band.

The church is at 6019 Belle Grove Road. Information: the Rev. Susan Spears, 410-636-2578.

Christian concert

Alan McGill will perform a concert of song and Christian testimony at 7 p.m. Saturday at Townsend Avenue Baptist Church, Fifth Street and Townsend Avenue.

McGill has recorded 23 albums of religious music.

Townsend's pastor, the Rev. Scott Neiswender, invites all faiths to attend the free program. Refreshments will be served. Information: 410-355-0347.

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