Meadowbrook circus a summer treat
Meadowbrook School student Michael Friedman performs in a circus outfit and on a bike June 6 at the school in Northbrook. Cirque Amongus visited the school and taught students circus skills. | Buzz Orr~Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 17, 2012 6:02AM
Ladies and gentlemen, children of all ages — Meadowbrook Elementary School in Northbrook ended the school year with a dazzling, one-of-a-kind circus.
Youngsters from kindergarten through fifth grade learned the fine art of putting on the show of shows from Cirque Amongus of Livona, Mich., which provides education enrichment by teaching big-top skills.
The program, sponsored by the PTO, offered hands-on sessions designed to build self-esteem, develop motor skills and promote teamwork, said PTO President Eileen Henning.
Professional entertainers and skilled instructors, as well as teachers and volunteers, introduced the students to the fundamentals of circus arts – juggling, movement and balancing — in a safe, fun-filled way.
Teachers and volunteers became instructors, choreographers, stage hands, wardrobe chiefs and make-up artists as the children became big top stars.
“It provided such a sense of community, especially with such mixed age groups all working together, it is something we would definitely like to bring back again,” Henning said.
The mini performers walked the parallel bar “high wires” at least a foot off the ground, some moving backwards as well as forwards to the blare of circus music.
A parade of growling children dressed in tiger stripes and lion manes circled the ring, some menacing members of the audience who ventured too close.
Jugglers hurled flying saucers back and forth presenting a remarkable display of skill.
Enigmatic dancing bears and elephants — kids in appropriately shaped ears — formed a conga line around the ring with their paws on the animal in front of them.
Balancing on large balls, walking on stilts, wheeling unicycles, acrobatics, magician tricks and trapeze stunts also rounded out the day.
Principal Patrick Thome even donned big hoop earrings and a scarf to clown around on the high wire to the great delight of the students.
Teacher Bill Norris noted that the event took a lot of active participation and cooperation from the community to make it the success that it was.
Some 11-year-old fifth-graders said they didn’t remember ever having so much fun at school.
Reid Bondy said he liked the large variety of things they did, but particularly throwing the red disks.
“That was real fun,” he added.
Kate Abrams said she really enjoyed swinging on the trapeze.
“It looked like fun so I wanted to try it. I had help, so it wasn’t so hard,” she added.
Kathleeen Douherty loved spinning plates and doing yoyo tricks, as well as balancing on the trapeze.
Sam Weiss said he most enjoyed the “happy looks” on the faces in the audience as the performers balanced on barrels and rode the cycles.
“It takes a lot of skill to put on a circus. Now that I know what it’s like, I also know how hard and what fun it is,” he added.