Maplewood Schools / Kids South Orange

New Jersey Circus Center Comes to Seth Boyden

From Seth Boyden Elementary School:

The circus came to Seth Boyden School recently, as the New Jersey Circus Center took up an Artist’s Residency at the school for five days!  The program culminated in the fourth-graders creating and performing their very own Circus, both in a school-day assembly and an evening performance for an auditorium packed with families and friends.  The students performed such classic Circus acts as spinning plates,juggling, stilts, clowning, flower sticks, Diabolo yo-yos, and even acrobatics!

The program was conducted by Doug Young of the New Jersey Circus and Kevin Kraft, a Seth Boyden dad and former Ringling Brothers & Barnum and Bailey Circus clown, who also Ringmastered both shows.  Over the course of the week, Young and Kraft taught circus skill workshops to the kindergarteners through fourth-graders in their Physical Education classes and spent additional intensive time with the fourth-graders writing, practicing, and honing their acts.

“Circus skills teach the value of practice, of self-acceptance, and of staying ‘in the process,’ lessons that can be applied to anything,” Kraft explains.  “Circus skills afford kids the opportunity to succeed at something that is unique to them, when they might otherwise feel they don’t ‘fit in.’  They start to socialize differently because they get peer recognition, build confidence, and find out more about who they are.

“Parents and teachers often comment to me that they see something in their child they never saw before, a‘breakthrough’ of sorts, even if it’s just smiling for longer than they’ve smiled in awhile, or practicing with a focus they hadn’t seen before,” Kraft continues.  “When I hear that the Circus had some small part in influencing the current of a child’s life, I am always touched.”

At the Friday evening show, the audience cheered loudly as Seth Boyden fourth-graders somersaulted through hoops, walked hand-free on stilts, caught one another’s juggling scarves, and performed a hilarious clown skit involving a shark costume and $100 (“You know the bill’s legitimate because it’s laminated!” Kraft joked to the crowd). Even students in other grades who had seen the assembly earlier in the day came to the evening performance to support their friends.  The atmosphere was very lively, and the fourth-graders looked quite proud of themselves after their acts!

The New Jersey Circus Center, located in Morganville, New Jersey, offers after-school classes as well as a one- or two-week summer camp from July 15 through July 26 (culminating in a performance at the Monmouth County Fair!).  For more information, contact the NJCC at (732) 705-3244, or visit the website at www.njcircuscenter.com.

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