Flood Brook students take center stage at circus performance

Posted
Brandon Canevari

Journal correspondent

LONDONDERRY — The Flood Brook School community got a taste of the big top last Friday.

Hundreds of people turned out to watch the circus performance put on by Troy Wunderle, the founder and owner of Wunderle's Big Top Adventures of Chester, and featuring Flood Brook students grades kindergarten through eighth grade and some members of the faculty and staff. The performance was the culmination of Wunderle's two-week-long residency at Flood Brook.

In order to coordinate the show, Wunderle spent the entire first day playing with the students. In that time, he presented the children with a variety of activities and, during the allotted time period, he studied the group dynamic as well as the individual interests of the students to determine how best to coordinate the show.

"That first time they saw me was play time, experiment time. It gives me a chance to see who's brave, who's got natural athleticism, who is comedic by nature and then formulate the acts based on those interests, skills and ideas," Wunderle said of his two weeks with Flood Brook's 300 students.

Another challenge for Wunderle was altering the show enough from the last time he put on a performance at the school, which was three years ago.

"There's a few audience members here that would have been here three years ago," he said. "They get a completely different experience here tonight as well. So, it's fun."

Wunderle said he enjoys returning to schools on a regular basis, particularly during the time frame where some students still remain from his last appearance. In fact, he said, he returns to some schools on a yearly basis.

"Those schools showcase greater skills year after year by building upon their previous experiences." Wunderle said. "A handful of my students have graduated from my programming and then used Circus Smirkus as a springboard to a professional career. A few of my residency students have even gone as far as becoming professional performers with shows like Cirque du Soleil. I take great pride in helping my students uncover their talents and pursue their passions."

Flood Brook School reached out to Wunderle in April to schedule a time when he could hold a two-week residency with the students, according to principal Neil McIntyre. A significant portion of those efforts was spearheaded by Arts in Education Committee chair Karen MacAllister, physical education teacher Mark Weikert, health teacher Kali Harris, and guidance counselor Brooke Paxton.

The Flood Brook Parents Association also provided assistance with dozens of parents baking to provide food for the concessions stand. And the Flood Brook Student Activities Cooperative purchased a lot of the supplies for the concessions.

McIntyre said the residency not only helped satisfy some of the school's physical education requirements, but more importantly, provided another way to engage kids in education.

"What I hope is that the parents just see their kids having fun at school," McIntyre said."I genuinely hope they appreciate that our school community is one that tries to make learning a joyful process, with this as a prime example of our commitment."

The residency and event were paid for by the Flood Brook School Arts in Education Fund. Proceeds from Friday night's event will go back into the fund. The Arts in Education Committee works to raise money in variety ways to enable the school to bring in local artists, such as Wunderle, to work with the students.

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