Circus children hitting the books, not clowning around all day

Published: Jul. 1, 2011 at 9:53 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 1, 2011 at 10:59 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - While their moms and dads are practicing their thrilling stunts for the "Greatest Show on Earth" this holiday weekend, it's a different scene for the children backstage.

Tucked inside the Wardrobe Room at the Coast Coliseum in Biloxi is a tiny school. There, eight students from preschoolers to teenagers, have to perform well in the classroom.

"It is fun and we get to learn at our own pace most of the day," said ten-year-old Geovi Urias.

When asked if it is hard to be in the same classroom with preschoolers and high school students, Geovi responded: "No, it's actually easier, because the teacher has less people to handle and he can come to us faster."

The children travel with their parents, who are performers or support staff for the Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus.  Some spend 48-weeks a year on the road.

When asked what she thinks about school and traveling, seven-year-old Alyssa Urias answered: "Traveling is cool.'"

"I think with circus kids, they have an advantage over what you would call a regular child in a regular environment," said their teacher David Schwarz. "They get to travel a lot. They see performers from all walks of life from all over the world."

The students spend four hours a day in the classroom. There is no recess or PE, but they get plenty of exercise when classes are over. Some of the children practice routines with their parents.

"They seem more excited at the end of the day here to share with me what they've learned in school, and that as a parent is rewarding and exciting," said Jodie Urias, a circus performer.  "We have a one-on-one communication with our children's teacher. It's not based on a conference every three months."

"We get to see new stuff. We see new people. People come to the show," said Alyssa.

It's a new educational adventure, every time their "Home School on Wheels" rolls into town.

In honor of Independence Day, the circus will have special Fourth of July performances just for South Mississippi.  There are five more shows this weekend through Monday.

Copyright 2011 WLOX. All rights reserved.