Loud booms echoed through the hallways of Highland Middle School in Libertyville on Thursday as students learned to play African drums as part of a cultural learning experience and the school's "Highland Reads" summer reading program.
More than 600 students learned about djembe and dunun drums from West African musician Fode Camara and Helen Bond of the Benkadi Project, a movement to provide clean drinking water in Guinea.
"One of our driving goals of Highland Reads was to expose the Highland population to cultures and ways of life outside their own," eighth-grade teacher Carey Fox said in a news release. "To that end, the arrival of Ms. Bond and Mr. Camara connects student life to that of West Africa."
Over the summer, Highland students and staff read either "I Am Malala" or "I Will Always Write Back" as part of the reading program. While neither book is set in Guinea, they gave readers insight into French-African culture and the importance of fresh, safe drinking water, educators said.
The drumming presentation by Camara and Bond was part of a three-day residency in which they also visited French and science classes at Highland.