Fox Flies at PRC

Published 7:00 am Saturday, March 8, 2014

Paw bump: Gutsy the Flying Fox performed at Pearl River Central Elementary schools where he entertained the children while his emcee shared their message of being a student of character who fights bullying, shows respect, and teams up with fellow students.

Paw bump: Gutsy the Flying Fox performed at Pearl River Central Elementary schools where he entertained the children while his emcee shared their message of being a student of character who fights bullying, shows respect, and teams up with fellow students.

What does the fox say?

If the fox in question is Gutsy the Flying Fox, he doesn’t say much, but his message is that children should work everyday to become students of character.

Thursday, Gutsy the Flying Fox visited students at Pearl River Central Upper Elementary, treating them to high flying antics, stunts and light magic tricks combined with an inspiring message conveyed through his emcee Connie Johnson.

Gutsy is played by former Atlanta Hawks mascot Kirk Johnson.

The husband and wife team began touring the southeast United States after Kirk left his job with the basketball team five years ago. During his 12-year tenure with the team he became a fan favorite for his stunts and antics, which he now employs to spread positive messages to children at schools and churches.

“Our passion is to encourage children to be students of character and be the best they can be,” Connie Johnson said.

The presentation was sponsored by the First Baptist Church of Picayune, who brought Gutsy to town for the second year in a row to share his positive message with the 140 children in the church’s Upward Basketball league, said Associate Pastor of Students and Activities Jonathan Denton.

Thursday, Gutsy spoke to PRC Upper Elementary students in the third, fourth and fifth grades. Friday the same presentation was shown to children who attend the Lower Elementary.

Gutsy’s message was shared through the letters that made up his name. The letter G stood for “Give respect”, U stood for “understanding and encouragement”, T stood for “team up”, S stood for “slam dunk bullying” and Y stood for “you choose”, which meant everyone has a responsibility to make the right choice.

The meaning behind “give respect” is that everyone should say please, thank you and give compliments. Part of showing respect involves accepting people for their differences.

“No matter how different we are we all need encouragement,” Connie Johnson said.

Teaming up ensures no one is left out of an activity, ensures children ask for help when they need it and that they provide help to others.

Bullying is an issue at every school, Connie Johnson said.

“Students of character don’t bully others and stand up for others that are being bullied,” she said.

While children receive a lot of instruction from parents and teachers, ultimately it is up to them if they make the right choices, Connie Johnson said.

“You have the choice to be a student of character,” Connie Johnson told the students during the show.

Gutsy’s antics involved high flying slam dunks with the help of a special trampoline, magic tricks that also doubled as illustration of everyone’s differences, dancing with volunteers and juggling basketballs.