Tsunami Circus team set to fly

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Salt Spring Island Middle School’s Tsunami Circus will present their year-end show called Beyond Your Wildest Dreams at the middle school gym this weekend.

The group has been putting the show together since October. It follows a series of dreams and waking moments in a teenager’s life on Salt Spring Island, and includes clowning, juggling, aerial work, unicycling and other circus skills.

“They’re athletes,” Wightman said. “They’ve been training for this for eight months. If you put eight months and a minimum 10 hours per week into kids, they’re going to come up with something spectacular.”

SIMS is one of the only schools in the country to offer a circus program. There are a few private circus schools in places like Quebec, but since they’re private the tuitions are much more expensive.

Wightman had the idea for the program after an Australian high school circus group came through for a visit. With a background in yoga and aerials, Wightman was inspired to create the program and has been putting on shows for the last three years with a team of six coaches.

“I’m so grateful to have this team of people. I feel like a family. I completely love them,” she said.

The circus program is an extracurricular activity at the school. Students who sign up are required to learn how to juggle on their own and go through an application process. Once in the program, they are encouraged to take on an aspect of circus performance they love. Wightman explained that in addition to learning circus skills like juggling and contortion, the students gain camaraderie, support and confidence.

“What it pulls out of each individual is always surprising. You’re guaranteed that there will be some massive change in each of these kids’ lives and you never know what it will be,” she said.

For more on this story, see the May 9, 2018 issue of the Gulf Islands Driftwood newspaper, or subscribe online.

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