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The Power of Persistence

by Jennifer Carlo, Executive Director

Circus Smirkus

At the Winooski school district in Vermont, the circus has taken over the sixth grade! 

Visit one of the classrooms, and you’re bound to hear sixth graders discussing exactly how many steps it takes to build a circus tent. (It takes six steps to build one circus tent, by the way, but if every sixth grader completes a tent they will have done 132 tasks.) You’ll see them designing and creating posters for their upcoming circus performance, or practicing juggling or diabolo. Click here for a fabulous gallery of the posters!

All of this helps kids learn the Power of Persistence, through an integrated program at Winooski Middle school that is building social and emotional learning skills.  Our Residency is a core component of this program, featuring the Circus Secrets – an integrated program originally developed by former long-time Smirkus Residency Director Rick Davis. Circus Secrets help kids use circus arts to develop valuable social and emotional learning skills.

We’re so pleased to be able to bring circus arts programming into schools like Winooski, teaching the students rolling globe, juggling, clowning, plate spinning, and more circus skills and helping them have fun doing all those things! But along the way, these youngsters are also gathering skills that will help them persist in any activity they want to try – skills like “Try, Try Again” and “Give Help, Get Help” and “Imagine.”

We’ve been watching kids persist at circus arts for over 30 years, and each time we bring a teaching artist into a new school, we are amazed and delighted by each new group of students. Here are a few photographs of these persistent sixth graders – we hope they bring as big a smile to your face as they do to ours.


Circus Smirkus

Circus Smirkus