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WDC first-graders learn the art of being clowns

Professional clown and educator Perrin Boyd works with first-graders on expressing themselves in an animated way. Pictured with their expression of "surprise" are William Schmidt, Bryanna Kleinke, Axel Lindquist and Jacob Hoppe. Boyd is spending five days with the first-grade classes teaching them the art of clowning. These first-graders are from Kathy Thoreson's class.

Dana pavek, WDC Schools

Wadena-Deer Creek (WDC) first graders are allowed to "clown around" all week while they learn the art of clowning.

Theater artist Perrin Boyd uses her masters of arts in teaching and her experience as a clown with Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus to teach the first graders how to "discover the clown within."

"In a supportive and silly environment, students learn to approach the world as a clown -- that everything is a gift. Emphasis is placed on non-verbal physical expression, creativity and self-esteem," Boyd said, who is spending about an hour each day in WDC's five sections of first-grade classes.

Boyd said learning to be a clown requires physical skills, dramatic ability, self-expression, imagination, timing and a sense of humor.

At the end the week, the first-graders will put their clowning skills to work by presenting skits. The students will apply their own make-up and put together their clowning attire before they perform in front of an audience of parents and WDC kindergarteners on Friday, March 14 at 1:45 p.m. in the Auditorium Gym. The kindergartners are invited to attend for a sneak-peak of what the clowning residency is about when they become first-graders next year.

"It's amazing to see how Perrin works with the students each day and by the end of the week, the students are transformed into clowns who perform very funny skits," said first-grade teacher Cheryl Kellen.

Kellen said the first-grade classes also focus their school assignments around the clowning theme with creative writing, math, art and more.

Boyd, who travels around the state from October to June visiting schools, has been sharing her talents with WDC first-graders for several years now. She is a graduate of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown College and has a master's degree in education. She resides in southern Minnesota.

Boyd's artist-in-residency is made possible thanks to donations from the Five Wings Arts Council, Deer Creek Lions, Wadena Lions and Wadena Elks Lodge.