More than 500 children at Jefferson Elementary School squealed with delight, laughed and stared wide-eyed in amazement as Scott Humston performed magic tricks in the school gymnasium. They didn’t know it, but they were also getting a lesson in character.


Humston performed his “Pro Kids Show” to the entire school on Thursday. A nationally-acclaimed entertainer, Humston performs more than 300 shows per year, including 10 around South Carolina this week, and has made special appearances at the White House Easter Egg Roll.


Through the use of magic tricks, puppetry, dialog and sing-along songs, Humston teaches students the importance of honesty, character, respect, courage and responsibility.


While making a point about honesty on Thursday, Humston told the story of an aging king who held a competition among children to determine which child would take the throne. He gave each child a flower seed and said that whoever grew the best flowers would become the king.


None of the children could get the flowers to grow, and while most of them scooped up flowers from other places to take to the king as their own, a boy named Freddy took his empty flower pot.


The king had given each child fake seeds, making it impossible to grow flowers. Because Freddy was honest, he was awarded the throne.


“In my story, little Freddy is the only kid with enough courage to appear before the king with an empty pot,” Humston said. “Sometimes, it takes courage to be honest.”


Humston created a balloon elephant and awarded it to the class whose teacher could yell the magic words – “Please” and “Thank you” – the fastest. He also brought out a puppet named Justa Beaver – a reference to pop star Justin Bieber – to discuss bullying with the students, and what to do if they see someone being bullied.


“It’s not what people expect, even if they expect a magic show or a puppet show,” Humston said. “It’s got all those elements, but it’s like a peach. I can tell you what a peach looks like, I can tell you want it smells like … but you really don’t understand what it is until you take a bite.”


Humston normally performs for the children during school, then does a longer performance the same night. The idea is to “use the kids as a catalyst” to get the parents to come to the night show, and then create “breakfast moments.”


“Those are moments parents will talk about with their kids later,” Humston said. “They’ll say, ‘Hey, you remember when Mr. Scott said that?’”


Humston said that is the whole idea of the show – planting seeds.


“The theme tonight is about raising up your kids, and helping them plant good,” he said. “If we want to grow something great, we have to plant good.”


Erika Smith, guidance counselor for Jefferson, has a picture of a flower that Humston drew on his visit in 2008 still hanging on the door of her office.


“He drew a pot, and then all of a sudden the flower showed up,” she said, looking at the picture. “I still don’t get it.”


Smith said the attendance at Humston’s last show was incredible. She added that reinforcing positive values in young children isn’t emphasized enough.


“It’s something we take for granted, and say, ‘They know they’re supposed to be good,’” she said. “It’s not that simple. They need to have it reinforced, and reinforced in a fun way, and everybody in that gym was buying into what he said today.”


Humston performs mainly at elementary schools, church and family events. For more information on the show, and to get access to more tips and jokes, visit www.schoolshow.com.