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Washington Voices

Finch Elementary students learn tricks in school’s circus club

Connor Soth has two fire-eating great-aunts, making the Finch Elementary School sixth-grader a perfect match for the school’s circus club.

The free club meets four times a week after school, and although there is no fire eating involved, there are a lot of circus stunts going on.

“My favorite thing is to juggle. I’m good at it,” said Connor, 12, before demonstrating his skills with juggling pins and beanbags. “My older brother helped me learn how to juggle.”

Club members work on juggling, jump rope, gymnastics and unicycling skills, building up to a show at the end of the school year. Some of the group’s performers were in the recent St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

“The unicycles are very popular,” said Dan Farley, physical education teacher and circus club ringmaster.

Farley said he has no circus background or circus dreams, but he once got a unicycle for his birthday.

“I can juggle – that’s pretty much it,” he said, laughing.

The students also practice walking on stilts and jumping on pogo sticks while “Gangnam Style” blares from the stereo.

On a recent Thursday afternoon, the students practice riding side-by-side as they would in a parade, and they also do some gymnastics, tumbling and cartwheels on mats. They all want to get ready for the show and for the Junior Lilac Parade.

“Last year, we also took the show on the road to some other elementary schools,” Farley said.

This is Payton Eiris’ first year in circus club.

“I joined because my friend Matt was in it last year and he said it was fun,” said Payton, 12, while taking a break from unicycling. He said it took him three weeks to learn how to unicycle.

“It was a little hard,” Payton said. “You have to lean forward and not grab the seat and then go. If you look down, you go down.”

He’s now trying to get his mom to buy him a unicycle.

Connor said he spent time with the Wenatchee Youth Circus last summer and he’s going back again this summer.

“I juggled last year, it was really cool,” Connor said. He now juggles everything he can get his hands on.

When asked if that drives his parents crazy, he looked puzzled.

“No,” he said, “they don’t mind. I think they like it.”