March 7, 2009
Jan Swoope - [email protected]
All eyes in Mississippi State University''s Humphrey Coliseum were on a group of fourth-graders from Joe Cook Elementary Fine Arts Magnet School Feb. 28 as the pint-sized dribblers took the court during half-time of the SEC match-up between MSU and Auburn University. Showcasing basketball skills to music, the group of about 38 children brought the crowd to its feet.
"See there! You can do anything if you try hard enough!" exclaimed a proud and happy Destiny Cray, one of the student team members.
"They felt like rock stars, with so many people telling them what a great performance they had and how much they enjoyed the show," said the Little Falcons'' Coach Amy Martin, instructor of physical education at Cook.
"All the skills we perform are taught to all students in second through fourth grade at Cook," she explained. "Kindergarten through first grade are taught a lot of the same moves, but modified for their age. Those little hands just aren''t ready to do a lot of those skills."
Martin, who began teaching the show skills about 10 years ago, usually has one team of third- and fourth-graders to take "the show on the road." But this year, "the skill level has increased so much we could offer two teams," she said. A group of third-grade Little Falcons performed Feb. 15 during half-time of the MSU-Auburn women''s game.
When children are invited to join the Little Falcons, they are asked to sign a contract, pledging to work hard in the classroom, make good Cook Cool Kid choices and be a positive role model for other students, Martin said. Their parents and classroom teachers must also sign this contract.
"It''s a lot to live up to, but most follow the terms of their contract and remain on the team," their coach praised. Several Little Falcons have gone on to play basketball for the Falcons and Lady Falcons basketball teams.
"Most of these students have never been to a college game before; it''s an experience they''ll always remember," said Martin after the Humphrey Coliseum performance. "I always say that I have the best job in the state of Mississippi! I love my job. ... I love my kids. And I love Cook Fine Arts Magnet School."
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.