CircEsteem Graduates

CircEsteem is proud of its high school graduates who have all shown that with determination and a belief in oneself, anything is possible. CircEsteem works hard to help graduates follow their dreams with job opportunities, college scholarships and the knowledge that they always have a safe place and a circus family to come back to.

CircEsteem Graduates

Ali Haymes

Ali Hayme

Ali was born in Chicago and joined CircEsteem in 2002.  Her favorite circus skills are lyra, trapeze, silks, tight wire, acrobatics and Gym Wheel.  She has attended two AYCO (American Youth Circus Organization) festivals, traveled to Germany, performed all over Illinois, been on a two-week tour and performed for over 100,000 people around the world.  [...]

Cornell Freeney

Cornell Freeney

Cornell joined CircEsteem the summer of 2003 in search of excitement. In 2005, Cornell started to train on the Gym Wheel. Preparing for the World Championships Cornell practiced every morning before school. In 2007, after two years of training, he competed in Austria at the World Championships in Wheel Gymnastics. There he placed 7th all [...]

Donald Keme

Donald Keme

Donald Keme moved to Chicago from Togo in 2001. He is one of the first generation of CircEsteem students to graduate from high school. He is now attending Truman College as a pre-pharmacy major and plans to attend the Conservatory of Recording Art and Science in Arizona. Donald has been teaching as a CircEsteem staff member since [...]

Edith Keme

Edith Keme was born in Togo.  Her family moved to Chicago in 2001 and she joined CircEsteem in 2003.  Through CircEsteem Edith has traveled around the country and internationally.  In 2009, Edith went to the World Gym Wheel Championships in Switzerland. Edith is the recipient of a Posse Foundation Scholarship.

Emmanuel Tawiah

Emmanuel Tawiah

Emmanuel was born in Ghana and raised in Italy.  He came to the United States in 2002 and joined CircEsteem in 2004.  He has performed in over 300 shows and taught in over 200 workshops.  He loves to leave joy in people’s hearts and smiles on their faces.  Emmanuel juggles, tumbles, spins plates, balances on [...]

Jake Potashnick


Jake is a Chicago native who joined CircEsteem in 2004.  He joined the circus out of a love for juggling, but stayed to develop skills in areas such as trampoline and clowning.  Since joining the troupe Jake has attended the AYCO festival, gone on tour, and performed in St. Louis, Pittsburgh, and all over Chicago.  He especially appreciates CircEsteem’s [...]

Kenia Perez

Kenia joined CircEsteem in 2009.  Although she has recently joined she has quickly become friends with everyone, traveled with CircEsteem on tour and to the American Youth Circus Festival.  Her favorite skills are juggling, acrobatics, poi, trapeze and clowning.  Kenia loves CircEsteem because she can be herself, learn and work on circus skills and be [...]

Maria Clement

Maria Clement

Maria Clement joined CircEsteem in the winter of 2002, a year after she moved to America from Egypt.  Being new in the country, CircEsteem made her feel welcome.  Maria believes that home is where the heart is, and CircEsteem is her family.  Maria embraces the diversity of people and circus skills that CircEsteem produces.

Mason George

Mason George is a former CircEsteem youth. From his beginning in 2001, Mason’s focuses have been juggling and balance with a dash of clowning. For Mason, Circus is a family both in the sense that he grew up with CircEsteem and in how his entire family works or has worked for the organization at some [...]

Philip Rheinheimer

Philip was born in Germany and moved to the United States at a young age.  He joined CircEsteem in 2007 after being inspired by attending a two-week camp with Circus Smirkus.  Philip is now a CircusTeen and was a counselor at CircEsteem’s summer camp in 2009.  Outside of circus, Philip does stage crew and hopes [...]

Rackim Ramsey

Rackim joined CircEsteem in 2005. His favorite circus skills are lyra, contortion and tight wire.  He also loves to dance.  In 2009, Rackim  participated in Joffrey Ballet’s Summer Intensive Dance program and recently completed a 9-month Professional Track Training Program at the New England Center for Circus Arts in Brattleboro, Vermont. Rackim has traveled  and [...]

Samuel Sake

Samuel joined CircEsteem in 2005 as a refugee from Ethiopia. His favorite circus skills are juggling, walking on the globe, unicycling, tumbling, and the gym wheel. In May of 2009, he traveled to Switzerland to compete in the Gym Wheel World Championship, where he represented Ethiopia. As a graduate of CircEsteem, he coaches gym wheel, [...]

Sara Yosseif

Sara was born in Chicago and joined CircEsteem in 2005.  Her favorite circus skills are trapeze, tumbling and juggling.  She has attended AYCO, traveled many places, including Germany, and gone on tour with CircEsteem.  Sara loves performing and improving her skills with CircEsteem.  Her favorite part of CircEsteem is getting to travel because it gets [...]

Shitonia Jones

Spring Circus 2009

Shitonia, or Toni, joined CircEsteem in 2002.  She enjoys performing trapeze and clowning around.  Toni has traveled with CircEsteem within the U.S. and around Germany.  Outside of CircEsteem, Toni enjoys dancing and school.  Toni plans to go to college and pursue her dream of becoming a lawyer.  Toni believes education and respect is the key [...]

Teresa Clement

Teresa Clement

Teresa Clement, joined CircEsteem in the winter of 2002.  In 2006 she started to work as a CircusTeen, teaching younger kids the circus skills she had acquired as a student. She started performing in 2003 and traveled with CircEsteem to locations such as Germany, San Francisco, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and more! Teresa is currently studying [...]

Viviane Clement

Clements sister

In 2002, a year after Viviane Clement’s arrival to the United State from Egypt she joined CircEsteem. In the seven years she spent with CircEsteem she was a student, a teacher, a performer, Summer Camp Director, and now board member. CircEsteem has played an important role in shaping her to be the person she is today, [...]

Willem McGowan

  Willem joined CircEsteem in the fall of 2006, after teaching himself to juggle. He toured with Circus Smirkus in the summers of 2011 and 2012. His favorite skills are juggling and diabolo, and his favorite part of CircEsteem was juggling with others. He is now attending the Circus School of Quebec in Quebec City, [...]