African Culture in Salem

by Robyn Hatch

Barron Students learning African culture through participation.

Barron School recently finished an intense integrated unit on the continent of Africa.  This is year number 12 that this event has taken place.  This intense month-long project is highlighted by the school district as one of the many examples of how the arts can be fully integrated into the individual classroom curriculum.

The third grade teachers designed the African unit, focusing on the African culture through its geographic location, natural resources, food, clothing, language, customs, and the arts.  After the actual performance, everyone was taken upstairs to view all the many projects the students worked on throughout the unit.  In this unit the students learned how they are alike and different from students in Africa.

Along with the above-mentioned focus, much study was taught on the animals and habitats in Africa.  Some of the many projects included researching a country in Africa and making posters, and researching an animal and its habitat and making books and models.

The students also made masks and shields to represent the celebrations in Africa.  They also learned how to make African crafts, such as weaved bowls, necklaces, hats, and dolls.  In music class, the students learned rhythms on the drums and many African songs.  Rhythm was taught to help hear and feel the music in a very personal way.  While it uplifts and really awakens the soul, it is also very physical.  Music can take over the body and that is why music makes the listener want to dance.

The grasslands, deserts, and rain forests in Africa were explored.  Many videos were watched to get a real look at the country.  Many African folktales were read while the students were allowed to respond to them.  Poetry was written about animals and watercolor posters were worked on.  National Geographic articles were read and used.  Cultures were intensely compared, and then the students reflected on what they had learned and what they thought they knew before the study.  The students were taught that, as a member of a community in Africa, everybody is considered important.  Whether big or small, every contribution is important and very valuable to the whole group effort.

This was an adventure for the students that tends to leave a lasting impression.  It is a lesson everyone should come to learn. 

Forum on Veterans Benefits

by Robyn Hatch

Jo Moncher talking to the guests

The Senior Center in Salem recently had the honor of having Jo A. Moncher, Bureau Chief for the State of New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, speak to the seniors on benefits and programs being offered to veterans and their families.  Stories were told, problems discussed, and individual time was given to all.  The attendees who heard Jo’s talk walked away with a better understanding on what is being done for the many veterans and their families.  This was a very positive and informative seminar.

The pension benefit for WARTIME veterans and their families has become a very important benefit to those who require long-term care, which can be very expensive.  The New Hampshire State Veterans Council wants to help you apply for these benefits earned through the veterans WARTIME service.

As Jo explained, the mission of the military is to wage war and protect American citizens.  This mission, along with the Department of Health and Human Services, is to join communities and families in providing opportunities for citizens to achieve health and independence.  To accomplish this, the department collaborates with community and provider agencies throughout the state.  While the department always includes veterans, service members and their families in their mission, because they are citizens of New Hampshire, they never identified this group as a unique population with needs that the department can and should support.  This has drastically changed.  In August 2008, the department established the Bureau of Community Based Military Programs.  The Bureau is now actively involved in a number of initiatives, including:

  • A commission on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury.
  • A care coordination program developed by the New Hampshire National Guard, Easter Seals, and DHHS that creates a permanent framework in the civilian social system to provide comprehensive services for veterans, service members and their families.
  • The New Hampshire National Guard serves as a liaison for any community outreach, DDHS requests, family supports, and other partnership opportunities.
  • Military partnerships serving as a member, advisor or supporter to various military organizations.
  • A State Suicide Prevention Council established to reduce the incidents of suicide in New Hampshire.
  • VA Medical Centers in Manchester and White River Junction.
  • Client referrals to help connect veterans to the right people to get help.

For more information on any of these services, please contact Jo Moncher at 603-271-4402 or 800-852-3345 ext. 4402 (

For more information on some of the great programs offered for SELF or at the Senior Center, please call 890-2190.

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