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SELMA – Students enrolled in the after-school program offered through the Fresno County Office of Education got a chance to host their own circus Oct. 29 at Selma High School.

Each year, they host a carnival in the quad at SHS and this year, the theme was “Welcome to Selma Du Soleil.” Each school sponsored a booth and students rotated throughout all the activities where they got a chance to dress like a clown, perform feats of strength and balance on the high wire. Well, not an actual high wire, but a balancing beam that was challenging enough.

Carmelina Uribe, site lead at Eric White Elementary said the after-school programs used to be offered through the Teaching Fellowes but has since expanded under the FCOE to include programs at Eric White, Garfield, Terry, Indianola, Roosevelt, Wilson, Washington, Abraham Lincoln Middle School and Selma High.

Uribe said the months of preparation to put on the event paid off since students and parents could enjoy each school’s activities and talent show all in one place.

“I love seeing all the students dressed up, especially the performers with the clown make-up and the scary house that they have. The performers at my school were excited to see our booth and they were excited to see everybody else’s booths as well.”

Although this carnival is once a year, Uribe the overall after-school program itself makes a difference for the students that attend.

“When parents are working, it’s a safe place for them to be. They’re better off here than at home alone where they have no supervision and they’re just watching TV or playing video games. Here, they get to do different enrichment activities and they get help with their homework.”

Parent Rigo Delgado agreed the program gives their family peace of mind knowing his daughter, Paetyn Ulibarri, is safe after school.

“It’s been a huge help for us because both myself and my girlfriend work pretty late. Paetyn’s not old enough to be on own so the program has been a huge help and I appreciate it so much.”

Ulibarri attends Jackson’s after-school program and said she enjoys the activities, board games and homework help there.

“Because if you didn’t finish [your homework] in class, you can finish it there. And you get help if you get stuck on math,” she said.

Ulibarri had dressed as a midnight unicorn in shimmering black for their circus. Earlier, she and her father ventured through Jackson’s haunted house and were now about to have some donut holes.

“I liked the haunted the house. It wasn’t scary at all. It was fun,” she said.

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Eric White Elementary students Azuzena Rios and her sister Andrea Rios were busy making gigantic bubbles at another booth.

Azuzena said she’d never been to a real circus and she preferred theirs since “I could show other kids that the circus is not very scary.”

Earlier she walked across a balance beam set up so the students could pretend they were performing in a high-wire act. When asked if she’d like to perform in a travelling circus one day, she said she already had a career in mind.

“I’m going to be a scientist.”

And for Andrea?

“I’m going to be a teacher.”

Meanwhile, Terry Elementary’s Hailey Simons had a chance to hold a bearded dragon, Thanos, for the first time ever.

“It’s a little bit prickly on the bottom of his stomach and he’s a little bit heavy, but not too much.”

She was dressed a zombie because earlier she’d performed “Thriller” with other students in her after-school program.

“You’re doing a good job,” Ron Guill said. He and Kylie Colvard brought a variety of reptiles for students to hold, pet or just observe including a Bermuda python named Crystal.

Terry Elementary site leader Gao Hang said she and her staff dressed as clowns to fit the circus theme and offered pretend tattoos, a pin-the-nose on the clown game and a bean bag game for the students.

“I love how all the parents and sponsors come out as one big community to participate in this carnival that we hosted for them. Everyone’s booths look awesome.”

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The reporter can be reached at 583-2427 or lbrown@selmaenterprise.com.

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