Students are usually disciplined for being the class clown, but last Wednesday, they were encouraged to play that role.
Second-graders at South Salem Elementary School performed in a school-wide circus with parents in attendance in which students and teachers dressed as clowns, did acrobatics and juggling acts.
“The performance was excellent,” Salem principal Pia Ferrante said. “It was like a professional act and everyone worked extremely hard to put it together, from the faculty to the students. It was just great.”
Students read poems before each performance and sang songs that they prepared with their music teachers.
Sixty-five second-grade students participated, with each of their skill-sets and interests matched with a different performance, Ferrante said.
The performance was part of the National Circus Project, an educational out-reach program that works with schools and young students and teaches students to “juggle scarves, balance, spin plates, walk on stilts, manipulate devil sticks and more,” according to a news release.
“Our participation in the National Circus Project is a true interdisciplinary unit in which art, library, music, physical education and classroom instruction come together,” Ferrante said. “Students learn teamwork, hone their gross motor skills and put together a magical hour-long circus celebration.”
National Circus Project instructors educated Salem physical education teachers in workshops to learn how to prepare the second-grade students for the performance
Classroom teachers helped students practice the poems performed at the start of each act, Ferrante said.
Music teachers worked with students who sang songs, and library teachers had students research the circus performance students were involved with, she said.
“Everyone works together very well,” Ferrante said. “I thought it was perfect for the students to see the educators working together flawlessly. It set a really good example for the students, who took away a lot of team-building experience.”
Salem began participating in the project eight years ago.
“I came aboard last year as the principal and witnessed this performance for the first time, and I was blown away,” Ferrante said.
“We are grateful to our HSA’s for supporting programs like NCP and so many other enriching activities that educate the whole child,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kathleen Mooney said.
Students were split into different groups, with some spinning plates on sticks, others juggling wands dressed as clowns and others donning black blazers and top hats singing songs to their parents, Ferrante said.
“What I love is the skills the students take way from it,” Ferrante said. “At all levels and at all times in our lives, we’re performing, weather it’s public speaking or presenting in front of a classroom or in the future in college. This program really helps build those skills from a young age and teaches students how to handle themselves in front of an audience.”
“For more than 30 years, NCP specialists have presented more than 12,000 circus performances and conducted more than 60,000 workshops involving a total audience of more than six million participants,” a news release said.