Sharon Students Step Right Up for a Show
Sharon eighth-grader Rebekah Lamb, 13, giggles as her friends fool around behind her as she poses for a snapshot at The Sharon Academy on Saturday. Rebekah was dressed as Mary Lincoln for the middle school’s circus show. (Valley News - Libby March)
Watching the proceedings on Saturday are Olly Skeet-Browning, 10, left, Anthony Dorman, 11, center, and Ty Gagliardone, 11, at The Sharon Academy. (Valley News - Libby March)
A nother mud season has seen The Sharon Academy’s middle school classes run away to the circus for two
weeks, with the help of a bona fide circus arts pro.
The seventh annual Middle School Circus, performed for 700 people over two nights this weekend at TSA’s high school campus, saw the return of Troy Wunderle, director of clowning for Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, to help TSA’s seventh- and eighth-graders plan a family-friendly evening of entertainment. Time travel figured prominently in this year’s circus, with performers using a “portal potty” to visit ancient Egypt, the Neanderthals, dinosaurs and astronauts. Bringing each era to life allowed students to show off their chops in different circus arts: students who were skilled in using stilts were cast in the dinosaurs segment, while unicyclists shined in the space flight part of the circus.
Each year, the middle school has a two-week reprieve from regular academic studies to prepare the circus performance from scratch. But before that period begins, “we sit down with the whole school and brainstorm every theme they want to include,” said Pam Ward, director of TSA’s middle school. Students are given a set of parameters to help them devise a successful, and realistic, theme for the circus. Those ideas are then sent on to Wunderle, who helps students brainstorm different roles and activities during his annual residency at TSA, where he teaches different circus arts, such as juggling and unicycling. Under Wunderle’s guidance, students design the sets and costumes and devise games to entertain children and parents at the pre-circus carnival. But the lessons Wunderle imparts to students go far beyond the performance, Ward said. In essence, by teaching them circus arts, he’s driving home the importance of such critical as teamwork, giving each other constructive feedback and learning from mistakes.
“With everything he teaches, there’s lessons about learning that are instilled in the students,” Ward said. “He teaches them to make mistakes with intention. … Those kinds of things can transfer to other kinds of learning.”
The TSA circus came about when the middle school faculty wanted to expose students to the performing arts, but found that staging an all-middle school musical didn’t allow all of the middle-schoolers a chance to shine in front of an audience. After seven years, the circus is now a bedrock in the middle school curriculum at TSA, and something that students look forward to long before their arrival at the school. Every year, Ward said, a new group of students rise to the challenge of making the circus come alive for the community.
“It’s something they’re invested in,” Ward said. “They really care about making this good.”
Gergana Alteva, a junior at Lebanon High School, was named the school’s Student of the Month for March. Alteva was recognized for academic and athletic achievements, high level of participation in extracurricular activities and involvement in the group Organizing for America.
Kelly Pellegrino of South Royalton, Mahdi Saadat of Quechee and Elizabeth Williams of East Randolph were named to Vermont Technical College’s president’s list for fall.
Also, these students were named to VTC’s dean’s list: Samuel Arnold, Lebanon; Lisa Barrett, Hartford; Daniel Bartlett, East Randolph; Rebecca Beisler, White River Junction; Juliet Bennett-Stroud, Randolph; Kyle Bradley, Bethel; Schneida Bruny, Randolph; Erin Burrell, Bethel; Amanda Cassidy, Bethel; Kimberly Cayer, Bethel; William Clark, Tunbridge; Lindsey Colompos, Randolph; Constantin Condrat, Hanover; Blaine Conner, Chelsea; Seayra Dwyer, Sharon; Ryan Follensbee, Sharon; Jessica Hazlett, East Thetford; Jenna Hyde, White River Junction; Samuel Kendall, Cornish; Elizabeth Kennedy, Chelsea; Andrew Koziupa, West Fairlee; Ashley Kuit, White River Junction; E. Conner Lafromboise, Chelsea; David Lambert, Randolph Center; Nina Listro, Randolph; Cory Lyons, East Randolph; Joshua Mather, Randolph Center; Madison Messier, Randolph; Nadine Nelson, South Royalton; Rachel Noyes, Bethel; Niloc Quimby, White River Junction; Aric Ross, Randolph; Unique Small, Randolph; Dakota Stender, Tunbridge; Danielle Sweet, Strafford; Jameson Taylor, Woodstock; James Taylor, II, Randolph; Alisa Taylor-Parisi, Randolph; Angelica Thompson, White River Junction; Kara Thurston, Vershire; Alison VanArsdel, Chelsea; William Waite, Hartland; Andrew Wilkinson, Bethel; Melissa Wilson, East Randolph; and Jasmine Young, Randolph.
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