Drum beats echo in the halls of Hannah Ashton Middle School during after-school hours as students perform songs from Cuba, Brazil, Trinidad-Tobago and other countries as part of the Creative Explorers music program.
Music instructor Sam McCoy said the program is offered in conjunction with Kiddie Academy of Reynoldsburg's after-school classes, available in most Reynoldsburg city schools.
He said the program was started last year by Roy and Carol Haynes, owners of Kiddie Academy.
"It offers students homework help, computer lab, Zumba, foreign language classes, STEM classes, art and more," he said.
Creative Explorers classes are available at all elementary and middle schools in Reynoldsburg for a fee of $55 a week.
McCoy provides music classes for the program at Hannah Ashton, Baldwin Road and Waggoner Road middle school and junior high schools.
"The music classes are very unique for after-school programs," he said. "We have a steel drum band that any of the after-school students are able to play in. They start playing the instruments immediately and learn very quickly.
"The classes allow me to expose students to new instruments that can play a wide variety of music," he said.
McCoy developed his music classes over the past five years in an after-school program called Directions for Youth & Families at the Ohio Avenue Youth Center in east Columbus.
He said his students performed at the Columbus Arts Festival, the North Market, Lincoln Theater, the King Arts Complex and at many other events.
Parents should understand that the Creative Explorers classes are not just "baby-sitting," he said.
"I think that many parents do not know the quality of the program that we are offering and might look at our program as simply baby-sitting," he said. "I am excited with how quickly the Reynoldsburg students have taken to the music so far."
McCoy said his students will perform Dec. 7 at Reynoldsburg's Christmas on the Towne at a time to be determined and at 6 p.m. Dec. 12 at the Columbus Zoo's Wildlights.
"I hope that I can grow this music ensemble over time so that 12-15 students can play at one time and that they become a fixture at Reynoldsburg public events," he said.
Parents interested in enrolling their children in the program may call Kiddie Academy at 614-866-1422 or inquire about the program at their school's office.
Reynoldsburg City Schools began a partnership with Kiddie Academy in 2011.
Carol Haynes said Kiddie Academy provides the district with academic mentors to help with student interventions in return for space to conduct Kiddie Academy programs.
She said the STEM Club offers introductory robotics and science projects; the A Club is a performing arts club that teaches dance and drama and the Tech Club teaches students how to design websites and create PowerPoint presentations.
Students may also participate in aerobics, stretching, agility, volleyball, basketball and other indoor and outdoor games.