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Bristol students drum to the beat of international peace

A local student-percussion group called “Drummers With Attitude” (DWA) will drum up support for peace at the United Nations International Day of Peace, which will be held Oct. 3 in Bucks County Community College.

The International Day of Peace, started by the United Nations in 1981, is an annual event aimed at celebrating and spreading the word of peace.

Bucks County’s Day of Peace will feature speakers who will explore topics including diversity, peace and homelessness. There will also be live performances that celebrate diversity, such as the DWA’s.

DWA is made up of students from the Bristol Township School District, who drum on four-gallon buckets rather than traditional drums.

DWA advisor Kevin Travers, a special education teacher at Benjamin Franklin Freshman Academy, started the program in 2000 as a mentoring opportunity for students. The group has performed at a half time show for the 76ers, for Mayor Nutter, at a WXPN music festival and for the Trenton Thunder.

The group, open to students in sixth grade and up, began with six members and has grown to about 100 student members. Students who have graduated from the school district often return to perform with the group.

DWA includes male and female students from a wide range of backgrounds. “The program is really designed to include everybody and make them feel like they have a safe haven,” Travers said.

Travers started the group as a place for students who may encounter difficulties or challenges outside of school. The group has never performed at the Day of Peace event before, but typically performs at events with similar positive messages. The overall message of the United Nations’ International Day of Peace is for people of different countries and backgrounds to come together in the name of peace.

During the performance, students will play three musical pieces on drums written by Travers that are each about five minutes in length, and some students participate in a hip hop dance routine in front of the drummers.

“It’s something that every student can be a part of no matter what skill level they are at. If they don’t know how to perform or even hold a drumstick, we invite them in with open arms and teach them how to do it,” Travers said.

Derek Seip, 14, is a ninth-grader at Ben Franklin Freshman Academy and a member of DWA. Seip, a receiver on the school’s football team, joined DWA in sixth grade.

“We get to meet new people, do new things, and go to performances and games. It’s a fun program and a big family,” Seip said.

In addition to the student drumming group, local educational singer-songwriter Jonathan Sprout and local choirs will perform. Arts and crafts activities for children and discussions on current peace and human justice issues will also be held.

The third annual event was organized by a plethora of organizations: United Nations Association of Bucks County; BuxMont Coalition for Peace Action; Bucks County Human Relations Council; American Red Cross of Bucks County; The Peace Center in Langhorne; the Buddhist Sangha of Bucks County; Sacred Paths Community; St. John Evangelist Church in Morrisville; and the Zubaida Foundation of Yardley.

The BuxMont Coalition for Peace Action chapter, a group against war and nuclear weapons, will feature a discussion by coordinator Bill Deckhart on a peace economy versus a war economy, the creation of green jobs, and alternative energy.

President of the Bucks County chapter of the United Nations Association Charley Peterson said the goal of the event is to promote peace and awareness about local hunger and homelessness.

“It’s an opportunity to get the message of peace out to the public and let them know we haven’t forgotten about it,” he said.
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