- by Anne Finlay-Stewart, Editor

This is not like any Phys Ed class I ever remember.

wobblejugglingFor two weeks, four days a week, students and staff of Alexandra Community School's Grade 6-7 and 7-8 classes have spent half their day doing Phys Ed. Thanks to the Trillium Foundation and the Ontario Arts Council, Angola Murdoch was able to bring her LookUp Theatre program back to the school. The students were doing training in the circus arts, and preparing for a performance at the first whole-school assembly of the year.

I joined some parents and grandparents and watched the instructors, Angola and Rebecca, warm up the performers before the show with lunges, toe touching and exercises for focus and balance. They reminded the students just how much the younger classes were looking forward to the show, and would remember it – and them – all year.

A mother sitting beside me says her daughter has been out to catch the bus 20 minutes early every day. "She loves it," said Mom. "This takes them outside their comfort zone – it really challenges them, and uses different muscles and skills from anything else."

The rest of the school quietly took their seats on the gym floor in front of the free-standing trapeze.
trapezeAs the dramatic circus music rose, every senior student had their moment in the limelight, alone or with a partner. Some were high on the trapeze, hoops or arial silks – some were juggling on wobble boards, doing tricks with the diablo or their devil sticks, or walking a tight rope. All shapes and sizes, some shy and some bold; they all showed the skills they had mastered and took their bows.
The response was ooohs and ahhhs and enthusiastic applause.

Before and after the show, Principal Dan Russell spoke to the student performers, thanking them for giving this gift to the rest of the school, and praising their grit in working on these skills until they had mastered them. He praised their courage, and told them that courage was one of the seven Ojibwe sacred teachings.




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