“Scooter” the rodeo clown visits Greensboro schools

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 7, 2005

Students in Greensboro received a special treat and a special message when professional rodeo clown Mike “Scooter” Smith made his way around campuses yesterday. Smith, who is in town for this weekends first annual Greensboro Rodeo, came to the schools to show odd his skills with a bullwhip and talk to the kids about the dangers of drugs and alcohol.

Smith said going into the schools is a very rewarding part of his job that is heavily encouraged by the rodeo committee.

“They like for us to come in and talk to schools whenever we can,” Smith said. “We try to do a drug awareness program. We try to tell them about the rodeo and get them to come out and talk about drugs and alcohol too.”

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Smith said he tries to use humor and showmanship to get a serious message across to the students.

“We just try to tell them that it is not the cool thing to do,” Smith said. “You don’t have to be cool to do drugs and alcohol. You can go through life without them and still be cool and never mess with that stuff.”

Geensboro West Elementary School principal Stephanie Richey said having someone like Smith come in made the message far more effective.

“I think anytime we have someone come in to help us with the drug message it is great,” Richey said. “The kids get the message from their parents and teachers all the time. They hear it from me and get it a lot in school, but to have someone come in from the outside that has a neat profession is great.”

Smith’s show used heavy involvement from the crowd to drive the point home, especially the older children. Richey said the fact that he made sure the older kids paid attention made his message even more powerful.

“I like the fact that he incorporated the older kids,” Richey said. “So many times when the kids get older it is not cool for them to interact. I like the way that he focused on the upper aged boys and girls. I think the message is more heartfelt when it comes from someone the kids think is cool.”

Getting peoples attention comes naturally for Smith as it is his profession. Smith explained that different clowns had different jobs and his role was a comedian.

“There are two types of rodeo clowns,” Smith said. “There is the rodeo clown that is a bullfighter. He is the guy that protects the bull riders and puts his life on the line to save the cowboys. My job is the be the Jim Carey of the rodeo and to keep people laughing.”

All eyes are on Smith throughout the rodeo as he fills in the open spaces with performances and jokes. However, from time to time Smith also plays the role of bullfighter.

“My job is entertain the crowd and fill in dead spots,” Smith said. “You have just got to have fun. I am also the backup bullfighter. If the bullfighter goes down or something happens to him it is my job to help him out.”

Smith, who is originally from Marion, Ark., travels all over the country performing between 84 and 88 shows a year. He even has his own website at www.mikescootersmith.com

Smith had two more shows planned in Greensboro as he headed to Greensboro East directly after his show at West. Friday Smith will be at Southern Academy for another afternoon show.