Barbara Lawlor, Nederland. Just before spring break, the Nederland Elementary School gym became the NES Big Top, one of the last big all-school events before the school year winds down.
The circus includes music made for clowns and elephants and trapeze artists; it includes the spotlight that encircles one child as he or she performs tricks on the rings, the ropes, the balance bars, the large yellow wheel and the pogo sticks. Some of the kids were naturals and some needed a little help getting started.
This is the genius part. Each year, the NES fifth graders are given the responsibility of offering a hand to help the younger students do their trick safely. They shine the spotlight on individual performers, casting large circus shadows on the wall and they introduce the talent: Daredevil Drew on the rings, Acrobatic Abby on the tumbling mat, Flying Fynn on the vault and Mysterious Myla on the ropes. Each child had the choice of which circus activity they wanted to perform.
It was particularly poignant to see how kind and gentle the fifth-grade students are with the K-4 kids, offering them a hand or shoulder to support them if they begin to wobble. Having that help to rely on makes gym teacher Mary Joyce’s job easier and gives the older children the sense of being useful, of assuming their roles as leaders of the school.
Parents are invited to attend the annual event, a chance to experience what their children are learning in gym class, as well help them develop confidence in their ability to handle their brief shining moment of fame under the Big Top.