Girls Group meets bi-weekly over the lunch hour. The purpose of Girls Group is to teach female students of all ages and levels of development how to establish and maintain positive friendships. Staff guide female students through social interactions assisting them in developing conversational, friendship and problem-solving skills. Girls’ Group can also be a time to reinforce and practice social skills being taught in the classroom (e.g. managing their emotions, understanding other people's perspectives and flexible thinking).
Girls group provides a safe space where girls can interact with other girls, increasing their self-awareness and understanding of experiences and topics unique to females. The group is facilitated by staff members who demonstrate positive role-modeling through a variety of fine arts activities, goal-oriented self-reflections, and interactive tasks. Throughout the year, individual participants may take on leadership roles amongst the group, becoming role-models for their peers.
Through Girls Group the students have opportunities to socialize and develop meaningful connections with one another. The girls work together to identify goals and strengths in themselves and others, and provide each other with motivation to persevere during challenging times in their development.
We are lucky to welcome Clarence Wolfleg into our school every other Friday morning to lead drumming circles with our male students. Drumming has a great deal of significance to Indigenous People across Indian Country. Below Clarence describes the significance of drumming:
The Drum and the Rhythm
The drum represents mother earth as the earth is also in a circle. The drum also represents our way of life and the cycle of life in our world. No Blackfoot event or ceremony can function without the songs, the drum, or rattles. The rattles are used in ceremony mostly.
The sound or rhythm we emulate when drumming is the sound of the mother’s heartbeat. A respected elder and drummer from the Kainai Nation by the name of Bruce Wolfchild shared this explanation of the beat or rhythm:
“Every human being while still in the mother’s womb as the brain forms hears the sound of their mother’s heartbeat. Our planet which many First Nations call Mother Earth itself has a natural rhythm or heartbeat, our star or the sun has a natural rhythm, and all the bodies and stars in our universe also have a natural rhythm.”
The heartbeat sound or natural rhythm is present in almost all Blackfoot songs as a 1, 2 tempo. I will, on occasion depending on my students’ scientific understanding, point out recent discoveries of Gravity Waves. This new discovery by the science community now allows us earthlings to now hear the natural rhythms of space as it is now known that every planet body, star, or other phenomenon cause ripples or depressions in the fabric of space and time creating a certain rhythm or frequency.
I also teach this initial understanding of our beats or rhythms along with the protocols and rules of being around the drum. This includes having respect for your teacher, your fellow drummers, and most importantly the respect we have for our drum or musical instrument.
I have found in my experience that the music and teachings can work as a conduit or doorway to learning about one’s self, their First Nation’s culture, and other First Nations cultures.