WESTERLY — The thunderous beat of many hands striking drums reverberated up and down the main hallway at Springbrook Elementary School on Thursday night.
About a dozen parents and their children were immersed in an African drumming lesson by music teacher Deborah Wagner during the school’s annual Multicultural Night festivities.
Wagner chanted out words, carefully timing each syllable to the beat of her drum to set a rhythm everyone could easily follow.
“I like jam, I like pea-nut but-ter,” she chanted while she thumped the skin of her drum.
“All of these little sentences are just to help you learn,” she said before launching into a chant of “pep-per-on-i piz-za,” which everyone picked up and followed.
And a “boom-boom-BAH” three-beat pattern she called “one of the easiest patterns I can teach,” sounded awfully close to the memorable beat of “We Will Rock You” by Queen.
That was in the music room. Other rooms were each billed as a different country on a tour of the world, complete with a paper passport for visitors to log their trip.
There was a presentation of the cultures of several countries in the library, Italian storytelling in another classroom, and crafts and calligraphy in a third room.
Later in the gym, a show of Chinese singing, Latino dancing and Tai Chi took place, along with offerings of world food samples.
It was a fun night for children like Alejandro Valdes, 3, and his brother Luis, 8, who got creative in the crafts room.
“I want to make a mask,” Luis said, grabbing some glue, a paper mask with eye holes and some colored beads.
Across the hall, several Mandarin Chinese women who are teachers and students at the Bryant University Confucius Institute, which has a class at Tower Street, helped children do calligraphy projects.
The event Thursday was a collaboration between the school and the Tower Street School Community Center. That partnership was new this year, Springbrook parent liaison Laura Ross said.
About 25 young fourth-grade “ambassadors” helped by handing out the passports and registering the participants.
And what would a night of many cultures be without food? The PTO made a $500 donation so that the participants could sample various cuisines, including Chinese dishes, bratwurst with onions and peppers, Swedish meatballs, pasta and Irish soda bread.
“We’re trying to represent many countries,” Ross said. The event also tied in with the Tower Street center’s celebration of the Chinese New Year.
“Everyone’s getting a Mandarin orange,” Ross said. It’s a popular food during the Chinese New Year, she explained.
“Oranges symbolize good luck,” she added.
Food also was donated by the Weekapaug Inn and the Misquamicut Club and local families.