Students studying outside the library
About 1,300 elementary school students participate in Wofford College's Education Day

by Zach Fox
For Spartanburg (SC) Herald-Journal

Almost 1,300 Spartanburg County elementary school students filled Wofford College's Benjamin Johnson Arena on Monday for the women's basketball game against Elon as part of the college's second annual Education Day.

Wofford's Education Day aims to get students excited about college at an early age while reinforcing the learning going on at their schools. Students were given Education Day packets, with workbooks containing rosters for both teams as well as educational activities, a Wofford pencil, pom-pom and a ticket to another Wofford men's or women's basketball game.

“The kids are definitely very excited, and not just to get out of school,” said Lori Patterson, a fifth-grade teacher at Woodruff Elementary, which boasted one of the most enthusiastic groups of students.

The bleachers were filled with hundreds of students, stomping, screaming and waiving black-and-gold pom-poms vigorously. The young crowd exploded at every basket, even the ones that didn't count. They started cheers and chants, with each section and school trying to out-yell the other. When songs were played over the loud speakers, the students screamed, then started singing like a giant karaoke contest.

Each school had students participate in on-court promotions and games, including a game of musical chairs featuring elementary students, Wofford mascots and two members of the men's basketball team.

The 1,300-plus registered attendees more than doubled last year's Education Day crowd and helped set a new single-game attendance record for a Wofford women's basketball game, with 1,592. Wofford also won 68-65.

Ultimately, Wofford hopes the Education Day will act as inspiration for young students in Spartanburg County, getting and keeping them interested in going to college, said Lenny Mathis, Wofford's associate athletic director for marketing.

“We really hope to increase the percentage of students that graduate high school and continue their education,” he said.