By Louisa BenatovichStudent Reporter

With all the negativity and pure tragedy that has been on the news, it is easy to forget to appreciate the little things. On March 14, five students from Ellicottville’s 12-1-2 class experienced joy in its purest form. 

“12-1-2” is a classroom setup that stands for 12 students, one teacher and two aides. For a classroom with various physical and cognitive disabilities, this arrangement works swimmingly. 

Spearheaded by Mrs. Rocco, these students experience the school setting in a manner that works for them. 

As a treat, Ginna Hensel, president of Student Council, came up with the idea of a field trip for the 12-1-2. Because of logistical reasons, field trips are something that the class rarely does, but Hensel was determine to make this one work.

After several phone calls, Hensel managed to procure Shrine Circus tickets. The money raised at the Teachers vs Sheriffs Basketball Game concession stand was used to foot the bill. With a bus and van, the class, accompanied by Hensel herself, ventured north to the Hamburg Fairgrounds. 

There, the students were greeted with sights, sounds and smells they’d never experienced before. Everyone was beyond excited.

Performances ranged from elephants, tigers and lions to acrobats and magicians. Johnny Rocket also made an appearance. The perennial goofball had everyone laughing. 

“I was lucky to be able to do this for this classroom because the joy on those kids’ faces was worth every single penny,” Hensel said. “My little brother, Charlie, happens to be in that classroom, and the fact that I got to spend the entire day with him at the circus is one on of my most favorite high school memories.

Hensel said Charlie spent the whole morning before departure saying, “Yay, circus!” She said she wasn’t sure if he knew what a circus was, but everyone was just so happy to go.

“When we were there, I bought everyone coloring-book programs,” she said. “A girl in the class was so excited that she hugged and thanked me.”

Hensel also recognized Rocco and her team for the work that they do in 12-1-2.

“A lot of the kids are non-verbal, but the aides and Mrs. Rocco know what they want and need,” she said. “They play with them and recognize when they need a break. They have created a comfortable atmosphere. I truly believe that we have one of the best programs in the county.”

Additionally, Rocco extended her deepest thanks to the Student Council for providing her class this opportunity.

“Your thoughtfulness and generosity put smiles on a lot of faces!” she said. “We had an amazing time at the Shrine Circus — all the music, dancing and incredible performers were so engaging and fun. … I had never been, but it is something I will be watching for in the future!”

It is safe to say the Shrine Circus was a roaring success — pun intended.