Circus visits Stoney Point Elementary
Sandspur photo by Andrew Craft
Clowns Andrew Hicks, left, and Ivan Vargas of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus juggle clubs past students Owen Grant and Ashley Woods on Thursday at Stoney Point Elementary School. The clowns were part of a group of performers who visited the school to drum up excitement for the show's last weekend at the Crown Coliseum.
Staff writer Rodger Mullen
March 5, 2014
Nick O'Keefe was impressed by the presentation last week by members of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. He especially enjoyed the clowns.
But Nick, 8, said the show at Stoney Point Elementary didn't ignite any particular desire on his part to join the circus.
"I'd rather be a basketball player," he said.
Nick, a third-grader, was one of hundreds of Stoney Point students who got a sneak peak at the circus, which was at the Crown Coliseum last weekend.
A ringmaster, dancer and a couple of clowns visited the school to drum up interest in the circus and encourage the students to work hard and pursue their dreams.
The performers stressed that while most people won't grow up to join the circus, young people should not give up on whatever their passions may be.
The circus performers - ringmaster David Shipman, dancer Elly Myers and clowns Ivan Vargas and Andrew Hicks - greeted the third, fourth and fifth graders who showed up for the Thursday morning assembly.
"Hey guys, how's it going?" Shipman said. "How many of you have ever heard of the greatest show on Earth?"
Shipman then told the children about his own journey to becoming a ringmaster. He said he saw his first circus at about age 2 and fell in love with the excitement and pageantry.
Sandspur photo by Andrew Craft
Clowns juggle clubs past teacher Sherry Grant Thursday at Stoney Point Elementary School.
Shipman said he continued to pursue his ambitions even after failing his first audition.
"My message to you is this - you have it within you to be whatever you want to be," Shipman said. "You have a hero inside you."
Myers told of practicing dancing seven hours a day and eventually getting a role in "Bollywood" musicals in India.
Hicks said he knew he wanted to be a clown as early as elementary school, but it took encouragement to follow his dream.
"There were a lot of people who told me I couldn't do this; I wasn't good enough," Hicks said. "All it took was one person to tell me, yes, this is possible. This is achievable."
Vargas, a sixth-generation performer, told of growing up in the circus and learning first acrobatics and then clowning.
"I didn't know I was part of the greatest show on Earth," he said. "It was my playground."
The performers then put on a little show for the children.
Shipman asked for volunteers from the audience. The children stood in a line while Hicks and Vargas juggled pins around them.
Afterward, the students said they were impressed by the show and its message.
"It sparked inspiration," said Aidan Pelletant, 10, one of the juggling volunteers.
Alivia Stevenson, 8, said she might like to one day try her hand at acrobatics.
"It taught me to pursue my dreams," she said.