BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Students from Thomas P. Hughes Elementary School in Berkeley Heights commemorated Martin Luther King Jr. Day on January 17 by attending an assembly presented by The Seventh Principle - a troupe that brings together traditional African and modern African-American dance while teaching about respecting cultures from opposite sides of the world. This unique and exciting Cultural Arts program allowed students to honor the day and encouraged the students to participate according to traditional custom with call-and-response singing and movement.

The performance was entitled Bantaba: the circle of celebration. Bantaba is the Mandingo word that refers to ‘the center where all important events take place’. The entire school enjoyed the opportunity to learn about the history and origins of African based culture in America through a combination of story-telling and dance. Throughout the program, the members of The Seventh Principle explained why the people of Africa dance, why they use costumes, and why music is so important to what they do. Students and faculty learned about drumming and dance and some even had a chance to come onto the stage to give it a try. Mr. Justin Derman, Hughes music teacher, enjoyed joining the troupe to play a drum throughout the performance to the delight of the students.

The Cultural Arts Committee at Thomas P. Hughes Elementary School presents a series of enrichment programs and assemblies throughout the year designed to widen Hughes students' perception of themselves and the world around them. The hope is to encourage creative, compassionate and critical thinkers by exposing students to the arts and sciences through innovative programming. The programs and assemblies are made possible through fundraising by the PTO and the generosity of families within the school.