Bob Lutz

A lesson learned: Kids are very loud

As a strong watchdog for education, I want to do whatever I can to make sure our children are learning when they're in school.

So I do what I can. If I'm in a school building, I might peek my head in the door so I can see what a teacher is up to.

I don't think there should be much down time for students. Learn, learn, learn — that's my motto. Doesn't it show?

Friday afternoon, my strong stance on education took me to Koch Arena for a basketball game between the Wichita State women's team and SIU-Edwardsville.

Which is different than SIU-Carbondale.

See what learning can do?

It so happens that on this day, more than 8,000 school children were on hand for the Shockers' annual School House Rocks promotion.

It was not the best learning environment. If you have kids, you have surely noticed that a classroom with 20 students can get loud. Try filling an arena with 8,000.

Then, intermittently toss into that crowd T-shirts and mini-balls while inciting them to scream louder with a sound meter on the videoboard.

But aren't kids great? The place was rocking and happy and the Shockers responded with a 68-58 victory.

"It was really exciting,'' Wichita State senior guard Marisah Henderson said. "I think it pumps us up. As far as having to talk louder to my teammates, that's OK. I would rather the gym be loud, any day.''

The kids came from all over the Wichita area and ranged in age from kindergarten through fifth grade.

I became attached to Carla Elliott's kindergarten class from Gammon Elementary in northeast Wichita. They strolled in a few minutes before the game started and quietly ate their lunch and stayed still in their seats.

Wow, I thought to myself. These kids are so well-behaved.

The next time I checked, it looked and sounded like a miniature version of "Animal House.''

Not really. The Gammon kids were adorable and, except for the customary squirming, attentive to the game and the surroundings.

Just one kid, I believe, fell asleep. There was a steady flow to and from the bathroom.

"I'm watching basketball,'' said 6-year-old Logan. "I play basketball.''

Allison was seeing her first basketball game, as were several other Gammon students.

Before the game, WSU coach Jody Adams spoke to the school kids over the public-address system and implored them to be enthusiastic, eat lots of popcorn and do the wave "at least 25 times.''

Shame on Adams, who is supposed to be teaching today's youth. Instructing impressionable minds to perpetuate a tradition as unseemly as the wave is offensive to those of us who believe the three Rs are all a kid needs.

Alas, the kids did the wave, but thankfully nowhere close to 25 times. I don't think they had the attention span to pull off the wave that often; there was too much else going on.

The students got off to a rocky start when they cheered the first basket made by SIU-Edwardsville's Ashley Bey. But, hey, I'm sure they were caught up in the moment.

I doubt the youngsters noticed Cougars coach Amanda Levens blowing bubbles with her blue gum during the first half. In the second half, she had changed to the more traditional pink bubble gum.

Too bad, because the kids missed a chance to learn: Basketball coaches look really unprofessional when they're popping gum and blowing bubbles.

The kids were wild during halftime, when a three-person unicycle act performed on the Koch Arena floor.

If I've said it once, I've said it a million times: What kid doesn't love a good unicycle act?

Or adult, for that matter. If there's one thing kids and adults see eye-to-eye on, it's unicycles.

Some of the students started to filter out with about 10 minutes to play. You'd think they'd been going to Wichita State men's game for years.

Most, though, stayed to the finish, screaming until they couldn't breathe. It was a fun day. I said: IT WAS A FUN DAY!