As the students at East Aiken School of the Arts arrived in the cafeteria last Thursday, they were greeted by “One Step Ahead,” a bluegrass band.

Four of the six band members performed through the extended lunch period, taking part in an American Education Week celebration at the school. A number of parents would visit each day to have lunch with their kids.

“We got together as a group three months ago,” Roger Abernathy said, “but we’ve played with each other or around each other in the past. It’s the first time we’ve played for children, and we’re enjoying it.”

Megan Jensen, East Aiken’s music teacher, provided a variety of music genres throughout last week. Orchestral director Jahnell Williams performed the cello, viola and violin on Monday. Guitar instructor Jeff Pruitt was joined by three members of the Cedar Creek Church praise band for a performance the next day.

The featured program on Wednesday was the USC Aiken jazz combo. Faculty and staff members contributed their talents on Friday to wrap up the event – Antonio Scott, Linda Walker and Kim Entzminger and Jensen, on piano; and Travis Jenkins, on drums.

“It’s been an exciting week,” Jensen said. “We’re incorporating this into the classrooms, looking at the different genres and the styles of music. Our kids don’t get to see a lot of concerts, and this shows what it means to be a good audience.”

Abernathy, a instrumental instructor in Aiken, was joined by Mickey Joyner, Ronnie Davis and Steve Smith. All of them started out with country music and rock and roll, “but bluegrass is in our heart,” Abernathy said. “We do some old Tony Joe White and traditional bluegrass, but we like to step it out a bit, too.”

Senior writer Rob Novit is the Aiken Standard’s education reporter and has been with the newspaper since September 2001. He is a native of Walterboro and majored in journalism at the University of Georgia.