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Clowning around is funny business

By Laura Bartusiak
Woodlands Academy

Other teens go to summer camp. They do mission trips or volunteer. They hang around home and enjoy the later wakeup call. I went to Clown Academy II in New Jersey. Yes, I voluntarily went to clown school. If you’re anything like my friends, acquaintances and coworkers, you have a ton of questions. Here are some answers:

1. You said Clown Academy II. Does that mean you’ve done this before?

Yes! This was my second summer at Clown Academy. My first time there was the summer before my sophomore year. Everyone in my session had attended Clown Academy I as well.

2. Wait. Do you want to be a clown when you grow up?

After attending clown school for two summers, I have a deep respect for clowns. Believe it or not, being a clown is difficult. Circus activities, like unicycling and tightrope walking, take incredible skill and practice. However, my end goal in life isn’t to join the circus. My hope is to attend college, maybe go to graduate school and then enter the workforce. Clowning is a good backup plan, though.

3. So high school students from across the country come together to put on circus shows over the summer?

Pretty much. Clown Academy is actually a service project. Teens come together for a week to learn clowning skills, put together a show and perform in nursing homes, children’s hospitals and other venues that might need a laugh. I think joy and laughter are often taken for granted. Going to Clown Academy has really taught me to appreciate everything in life, even if it’s laughing for 10 seconds. The smiles we see on our audiences’ faces makes it worthwhile.

4. Do you have a red nose and oversized clown shoes?

I do have a red nose, but we didn’t wear oversized shoes. They would make the activities really, really hard. We did have crazy costumes, clown makeup and colorful wigs, though.

5. Does that mean you can juggle and make balloons and stuff?

Yes, I can juggle. As a clown, I learned how to do the human-log roll and human pyramid, walk on stilts, juggle and do the worm. I also mastered the unicycle this year. At Clown Academy, you can pick and choose which skills you learn.

6. Do you have any pictures?

Of course! Check out the slideshow above.

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The Mash is the Chicago Tribune's newspaper and website written for teens, by teens. The paper is distributed for free each Thursday at Chicago-area high schools and is written largely by high school students.

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