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updated: 4/27/2012 6:08 PM

Gurnee students inspire Leno for "Tonight Show" comedy bit

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  • Jay Leno asks passers-by to finish common adage in a "Jaywalking" routine inspired by a fourth grade class at Woodland Intermediate School in Gurnee.

      Jay Leno asks passers-by to finish common adage in a "Jaywalking" routine inspired by a fourth grade class at Woodland Intermediate School in Gurnee.
    Photo/Courtesy NBC

  • A language arts project by Teresa Glancy's students at Woodland Intermediate School inspired a segment on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" on Tuesday.

      A language arts project by Teresa Glancy's students at Woodland Intermediate School inspired a segment on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" on Tuesday.
    Courtesy of District 50

  • Video: Jay Leno "jay walking"

 
By Mitchell Armentrout
marmentrout@dailyherald.com

A class of fourth-graders in Gurnee may be on the path to a career in comedy writing, and some of their work has already made the late-night television circuit.

A language arts project by Teresa Glancy's students at Woodland Intermediate School inspired a segment Tuesday on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," after Glancy sent in their writings to the popular nightly program.

Leno mentioned Glancy's class while introducing the "Jaywalking" segment that aired April 24.

In an assignment last winter, Glancy gave students the first part of common adages and had the students complete them. She knew she had some comic gold coming from her class.

The responses included:

"If you can't take the heat, get some ice."

"Home is where I brush my hair."

"He who hesitates is a hesitater."

She sent the results to the Leno show in January. It prompted a signed photo from Leno and a call from one of the show's producers, but no indication their work would make the air.

Things became clearer when the classroom phone rang Tuesday afternoon.

"I recognized the area code from talking with the producer, and thought maybe this could be it," Glancy said.

It was Leno himself, calling to let the students know they would be mentioned on the air that night, introducing the segment where he would ask adults on the street to complete the same adages the kids tackled. He chatted with the students via speakerphone for about five minutes.

Granted, most of the kids don't really know who Leno is, but it didn't take long for them to figure out his celebrity status.

"They were more impressed by the fact that he was calling from Los Angeles. That got them saying, 'Whoa!'" Glancy said.

This isn't the first time Glancy has tried to get her students' work on late-night television. She got similarly funny results in 1983 after having her second-graders in Champaign complete the adages project, and she sent the idea to Johnny Carson. By the time she heard back from the show's producers, though, she had moved with her husband to Indiana.

Turns out the material was still fresh with her fourth-graders in 2012.

"I thought, 'Why not?' The worst they can do is say no," Glancy said.

Some students stayed up late to see the segment live, and Glancy taped it to show in class Wednesday, though she did have to edit some of the content for the fourth-grade audience.

No word yet on the class's next late night appearance, but Glancy said it was a great experience for her students.

"These students work hard, and I wanted to show them how far-reaching their work can be," she said. "It shows them you can make work and school fun."

Inspire: 'It shows them you can make work and school fun'

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