Schenectady County

Circus shows up at school

Even the teachers got to pretend to be circus performers.

Even the teachers got to pretend to be circus performers.

“It’s harder than it looks, isn’t it?” said Lincoln Elementary School third-grade teacher Kathy Powers, attempting to spin a plate on a stick Thursday. “I don’t know what the trick is.”

Incredible Larry and fellow circus performer Josh Edelman worked with about 270 children all week on spinning plates, juggling scarves and playing with oversized yo-yos. The week concluded with a circus assembly featuring the Scotia-Glenville fifth-graders at the school on Albion Street.

“They do pick it up pretty well. They’re learning some really tough stuff in a very short period of time,” said Larry Rundle, who lives in Schenectady.

Rundle said they try to teach the children about setting goals and doing their best to achieve them. They seem to have a good time. “It’s not like one kid says ‘I don’t want to be in the circus,’ ” he said.

Also, both men said that circus performing sort of levels the playing field for kids who may not be as athletically gifted.

“All of a sudden everybody’s at a starting point,” Edelman said.

He has been working with the students for about five years and has been involved in circus performing for about 15 years. He has worked with people from Big Apple Circus and Cirque du Soleil.

Rundle and Edelman showed some third-graders a few tricks at the beginning of the 45-minute period. Edelman grabbed a stick and plate and then stressed the importance of using just their wrist — not their whole arm — to get the plate to move.

“Once it looks like a spinning plate, you put the brakes on,” he said.

Then, the students went off to various corners of the gymnasium to practice an activity.

“You can go try a lot of stuff and it doesn’t matter if you can’t do it because you’ll have another chance,” said 9-year-old Ryan Hopkins.

Powers said students learn about the importance of practice and trying something new. “They love the challenge, even if they are not able to master it fully,” she said. “They’re really having a good time.”

Nine-year-old Margaret Seognamiglio said she liked working with the devil sticks, which are two sticks with flares on the end that are tossed back and forth. “You can do all kinds of things with them.”

Collin McPhail, 9, said he would not mind joining the circus. “I would be able to meet all sorts of people like the lion tamer. Maybe I would be able to ride on the motorcycle and the big ball,” he said.

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