Theres something about kids and circuses. Maybe its the thrill of seeing high-wire performers, the roar of a lion in the center ring, or the sidesplitting antics of a clown, but both seem made for each other. On April 11, Ripton Elementary School children had a unique opportunity to get a taste of the circus life when the "Rollicking Rowdy Rip-Roaring Rip-Snorting Ripton Circus" came to town. Students in Ripton schools grades pre-kindergarten through six got in the ring to learn various circus skills and perform feats, magic and comedy before a crowd of parents and community members. According to Jane Phinney, principal of the Ripton Elementary School, the circus performance for parents took place after an intense two-week Circus Smirkus School residency was held under the watchful eye of Rick Davis, a professional circus coach from Vermont. A Smirkus residency is an extended visit to a school by a circus professional, usually Davis, who shares circus skills with students each day for one or two weeks. Davis is the author of three books on stunts and circus skills; he is the founder of the tongue-in-cheek Institute of Totally Useless Skills. His career has taken him to Ringling Bros., Broadway, Disney World, the White House, and tours of 15 countries. Under a hastily erected orange and white circus tent (actually a World War II-era military parachute), the students practiced and later performed tumbling, juggling, balancing, plate spinning, and other circus arts skills. The Ripton Elementary School-residency program was partially funded by grants from the Vermont Arts Council (National Endowment for the Arts), Neat Repeats, and Friends of the Ripton School.