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Barnum and Bailey Kill 28 Year Tradition for Rocky Hill Elementary

Yesterday I learned that Rocky Hill Elementary school will not be having its annual Clown Day this year instead opting for a reading celebration. This ends a 28 year tradition. I’m still gathering my thoughts for a letter that will be sent to the administration and another to Ringling Bros./Barnum & Bailey.

…Clown Day started in 1980 when the first graders read a story about circus children. First grade teachers asked Jim Early to bring in circus performers’ children to visit. Mr. Early came with clowns, not children, and thus began a long tradition at Rocky Hill.

… Last year the local marketing company company, who has been faithful to bring the clowns to school, was replaced by a company in Atlanta. We pursued the Atlanta company (who knew nothing about Rocky Hill) about continuing the tradition and they said the circus was going through changes and the only clowns left did not speak English. She conceded and found two Ambassadors of Hope clowns who performed. This year, emails were not returned and the circus has come and gone.

[Source, Letter to 1st grade parents from the first grade teachers]

Clown Day is a well planned event that incorporates all aspects of learning as well as arts. The first graders spend time learning music, physical skills, and the three Rs are incorporated into the activities. Clown Day is not just a day of play and distraction from education. Instead it is a fun way to get the children engaged in education. My daughter has been so excited about Clown Day that she bought a dress for it at the beginning of the year and has avoided wearing it because she doesn’t want it "messed up" before Clown Day. She will be sorely disappointed in this decision.

This decision also breaks a rhythm at the school. Each grade has something "special" and exciting for the children. The Kindergarten students have Turkey Trot. There is the Wax Museum. (I’m drawing a blank on the others). The first grade is now orphaned and seeking their own unique event.

The cancellation of Clown Day is not only a failure on Ringling Bros./Barnum & Bailey‘s part but on the administration of Rocky Hill Elementary including Principal Cory Smith. Clown Day is a well honed operation that works within the curriculum. They have all the equipment and the support of parents. I am befuddled that they did not turn to the Shriner’s for clowns or ask a local clown to come perform. Shoot, if they just want to entertain the kids for 30-45 minutes, I’d put on a show!

Btw, as much as I love the circus, I think my children and I have seen our last Barnum & Bailey show. We will be quite entertained by the Shriner’s Circus from now on.

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