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Washington students flip over acrobats

10/23/2012

By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN

dobrien@dailynews.net

Students often ask questions of their teachers following presentations at school.

On Monday, Pam Channell wasn't so worried about the questions her second-graders at Washington Elementary School in Hays might ask following an impressive demonstration by a group of Chinese acrobats in the school gym.

She was just hoping the youngsters wouldn't ask her to repeat some of the acrobats' moves.

"It'll be interesting to see what they try to juggle in the classroom today," Channell said with a smile as she got up from her chair to herd her students back to their classroom following the demonstrations.

Channell said the demonstration was timely for her class, which is studying the meaning of "teams" right now. She added her students also located China on the map and learned there is a 13-hour time difference between Hays and China.

"It tied in with what we are doing; we have some kids in baseball, dance, soccer and gymnastics," Channell said.

The students and staff were exposed to plenty of gymnastics moves as the acrobatic team of three males and a female took turns wowing the crowd. They juggled, threw, twisted, flipped and balanced -- several different objects, as well as their bodies -- while always having total control of the objects and their bodies.

The finale featured the males stacked three high, with one standing on the floor, the second standing on his shoulders and the third standing on the second one's shoulders. On the dismount, the three-tiered human tower leaned so far forward it appeared it was falling.

Amidst a lot of loud "ohs," the acrobats gracefully flipped off each other and tumbled through a somersault into a standing position.

The nervous gasps and chatter quickly turned to loud cheers and applause from the audience.

In between acts, the acrobats invited some students to come up and try juggling three straw hats, and all present saw it wasn't as easy as it might look.

Gilda Torres-Allen, one of Channell's second-grade gymnasts, did have something on the acrobats, however.

"I can do one thing they can't do," the 7-year-old Gilda said as she proceeded to do a backflip in her room.

Gilda did admit the acrobats probably can perform that feat but just might not have chosen to do so Monday.

Being a gymnast herself, Gilda realizes how much work goes into perfecting certain moves.

"They were awesome. I'll bet that takes a lot of practice," she said, with an emphasis on "a lot."

Washington Principal Allen Park learned a few weeks ago the group from the Lawrence-based Bureau of Lecturers & Concert Artists would be in the Hays area en route to a show in Nebraska.

"We've had (groups) from there before, and they know we're always interested in having them come if we can," Park said. "So they contacted me."

Washington has several school assemblies each year, but bringing in any group from the outside always is special, he said.

"Our home and school (association) is really good about helping us celebrate diversity here," he said. "So they were able to help us get (the acrobats) here."