The act that Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus brought to Fort Bragg, Monday, really wasn’t just clowning around — it was a coordinated effort to encourage children to read.
In coordination with the Fort Bragg Community Relations Section of the Public Affairs Office, Dave and Cherie Gregg, a husband-and-wife team, made a stop at Bowley Elementary School as Ambassadors for Laughter. They came to promote literacy and to prepare Families for the upcoming circus performance that will take place at the Crown Coliseum Feb. 28 to March 3. They read Dr. Seuss’s “If I Ran the Zoo,” and had youth participating in a juggling and a dance routine.
The Greggs have traveled to previous posts including Fort Hood, Texas, said Cherie. The Greggs said they are pleased to come to Fort Bragg.
“It’s great. I love giving back to these guys (military youth) because their Families are giving back to the country,” Cherie said.
Andrea Mial, Bowley’s principal, coordinated for the student body of more than 400 students to enjoy the presentation. Initially targeted at younger students in grades pre-k to third grade, Mial said she specifically wanted fourth and fifth graders to participate because older siblings who are readers serve as mentors for their younger siblings.
When older and younger siblings read, it offers the potential for a “connected conversation,” explained Mial, who welcomed Ambassadors for Laughter to the school.
“Our children work so hard every day on their academics and so it becomes an added bonus when we can make a connection with an entertainment group like Barnum and Bailey, and it becomes an added bonus when their presentation is related to our school improvement goal, which is reading,” Mial said.
Cheyene Shannon, 8, could barely contain her excitement of seeing the clowns.
“This is going to be a cool circus,” said Shannon, a second grader in Marianne Stoudt’s class. “They’re going to do funny stuff.”
“I’m going to learn a lot of things and be excited about school,” said Zoe Waldron, 7, also a student in Stoudt’s class.
Stoudt said the presentation is important because it focuses and highlights the importance of reading.
In closing, the Greggs encouraged the students to keep reading.
“If you ever want to get a great idea or you ever want to read a good story, just check out books here at your library,” Dave said.
It was advice that reinforces one of the school’s improvement goals.
“Their success is contingent on their ability to be good readers,” Mial said.