They got rhythm at Helper Junior High
Students and faculty from Helper Junior High brought down the house Friday afternoon as the school's annual drum circle evoked the fine art of drum making as well as the counter culture freedom of 1960s and '70s America.
The project, which is supported in part by the Utah Division of Arts and Museums with funding from the state of Utah and the National Endowment for the Arts, has been a constant at the junior high for four years.
The annual circle was born when retired art instructor Cathy Wilson began inviting Stan "The Drum Man" Secrest to Helper. Secrest, a drum major from upstate New York, has been teaching hands-on drum making all across America for decades.
According to HJHS art instructor, Danielle Weigandt, the circle program is set when a date is selected and Secrest makes his way across the country to Helper.
"When he gets here, he has the drum pieces with him, which are pre-cut in New York," explained Weigandt.
Secrest aided Helper students in constructing African Djembe, Ashako and small octagon festival drums. For the first time this year, the drum major also brought in Middle Eastern Doumbek drums for the children to assemble and play.
"This whole experience is amazing for our students," said Weigandt. "They learn an incredible amount about fine art and music in such a short period of time."
The school's art students worked diligently painting or wood burning patterns and symbols into their drums, which are meant to be deeply connected to their personalities, explained Weigandt.
Wilson came back to lead the drum circle on Friday.
Because many of the students had not completed their projects, the school plans to hold a second program on Nov. 23 at 3:30 p.m. The event will begin with a gallery stroll showing off the student's hard work and artistry. The second drum circle will kick off at 5 p.m. at Helper Junior High School.