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Drummers in the spotlight

By Joan Hellyer 

THE INTELLIGENCER (Doylestown, PA) - November 23, 2007

A student group will perform at three professional sporting events this school year. 

A Bristol Township drum group is preparing for a moment in the spotlight by going over a simple game plan:

"Just relax. Keep calm and don't really think about it," Mark Pendergrast, 15, a Harry S Truman High School sophomore said this week during a Drummers With Attitude rehearsal.

The group, made up of more than 70 Bristol Township secondary students and recent graduates, will perform three times in the coming months at professional sporting events in Philadelphia. The first appearance is Monday at the Broad Street Concourse of the Wachovia Center, an hour before the Philadelphia Flyers game against the Boston Bruins.

The group uses 4-gallon plastic buckets to pound out arrangements, which adviser Kevin Travers created to allow each drummer a chance to showcase his or her talents.

The high-powered arrangements include impromptu rap dances by drummers Jake van Horn, and Dante and Saun Waiters.

"We always have fun. It's our anti-drug," Dante, 19, a 2007 Truman graduate said during rehearsal at Bristol Township's Benjamin Franklin Middle School.

Travers, a special education teacher at Franklin who has played the drums in various area bands, organized DWA in 2000 to give students something to do after school and to provide them with a support system.

The initiative was a cooperative effort with Franklin's theater troupe, which incorporated the DWA performances into its productions, Travers said. Over the years, the initiative has expanded to include numerous appearances at school, community and professional sporting events.

In addition to the Flyers game this school year, drummers will perform March 15 during halftime at a Philadelphia 76ers game and before a Philadelphia Soul game April 28.

This is the first time DWA will perform at a Flyers game, the second time the group will put on a show at a Soul game and the third time it will pound out a beat at a Sixers game.

"We're giving them opportunities they might not otherwise have, a chance to experience to hopefully motivate them to do well in school and do well in life," Travers said of his DWA members.

Joan Hellyer can be reached at (215) 949-4048 or jhellyer@phillyBurbs.com.

Copyright, 2007, The Intelligencer