December 10, 2009
Tulsa's Wilson Middle School was transformed into a TV set on Wednesday for a segment of ABC's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," featuring legendary rock band KISS.

The band helped surprise the entire school with a presentation of about $100,000 in new musical instruments from Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation at an afternoon assembly.

"In public education, there is no crisis greater than the lack of money going into musical enrichment," KISS guitarist Paul Stanley said at the assembly. "The government needs to understand musical programs in schools is not a luxury. It's a necessity.

Stanley asked whether students wanted to see their school's 40 new trumpets, flutes, alto saxophones and violins, and they responded with deafening screams of affirmation.

Wearing royal blue "Extreme Makeover Home Edition" T-shirts, Wilson teachers came running in the back doors of the school auditorium carrying the instruments.

'How do you feel?" Stanley asked Wilson band director Doug Scott on stage.

"I'm just ecstatic," Scott replied. "I can't put it into words. This is just the greatest thing I could possibly hope for.

Principal Caleb Starr explained outside of the assembly that producers approached the school with an offer of free musical instruments as part of an upcoming edition of the show.

A Florida music teacher and his wife and kids are getting a brand new house and the teacher wanted to give musical instruments to a school in need as a way of paying the show’s act of generosity forward to others. The Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation stepped up to make the donation to Wilson Middle School in the family's name.

Producing the television show segment was an all-day affair at Wilson, 1127 S. Columbia Ave. In the morning, band and orchestra students helped unpack the brand new instruments, which will be used for the first time at Wilson's winter concert on Thursday.

"I'm really excited and really nervous," said seventh grader Kira Palmer. "My dad - whenever I was really young, like eight - we watched five hours back-to-back KISS concerts together. It was really cool.

PTA members visited classrooms all morning, choosing a few students in each to have their faces covered with KISS' trademark face paint.

The band finally arrived in their luxury bus about 1 p.m.

They were whisked through a rear entrance to a makeshift "green room," where Tulsa Superintendent Keith Ballard and other officials greeted them, thanked them for their part in the special event and asked for a quick picture together.

Almost an hour later, the band loaded back onto their bus to make a grand entrance through the school's front doors with the Florida family getting a new house from "Extreme Makeover."

School workers, parents and visitors crammed into the main hall to get a look at the group who violated numerous school dress codes as they made their way into the lobby wearing full stage makeup and costumes complete with spiked, skintight pants with thigh-bearing cutouts, winged capes, bare chests and skyhigh platform boots.

In between the ABC camera crew's multiple takes of the entrance, KISS bassist Gene Simmons showed off some of his notorious behavior toward women, too. At one point, he backed a female officer from the Tulsa Police Department, who was providing security for the band's visit, into a doorway using his backside and then strutted off, leaving her grimacing in the corner.

About 2:30, the entire student body filed out of their classrooms into the auditorium for the special assembly.

ABC production workers had them scream and holler as loud as they could a few times for the sake of cameras throughout the room, and then Ed Sanders, a personality and designer from the ABC show, took the stage to begin the assembly.

Even though students knew to expect KISS, the band burst through the auditorium’s back doors, surprising them.

The band members highfived their way through the shrieking, jumping mass of students and took the stage.