#039;Tonight Show#039; appearance #039;the pits#039; for Collins student

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 17, 2005

Mark Hatten's 15 minutes of fame was the pits - arm pits that is.

Jeff Williams, 17-year-old Mark Hatten's computer technology teacher at Collins Career Center, said that he was pleased with how the student carried himself last night when he appeared on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" last night.

"I thought he handled himself very well, I was very proud of him," Williams said. "As a junior in high school to be on national TV, he handled himself very well."

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This admiration for Hatten's demeanor is especially impressive when one considers that the boy was on the show because he has the unique talent of blowing up a balloon with his armpit.

The talent, which Hatten discovered in middle school, convinced the producers of the show to fly the Chesapeake resident out to New York for his brush with stardom last night. Williams didn't believe the fleeting fame would go to his head.

"Computers are his passion, they're his first love, he pours himself into his work pretty well," Williams said.

Last night's broadcast was even more surprising for Williams, as he had never seen the unconventional trick before. That wasn't, however, for lack of Hatten trying.

"When he knew he was going to be on the show he said, 'I want to bring in a balloon tomorrow and show you guys how I do this,'" Williams said, laughing.

"I told him he couldn't, because I told him if he brought it to class and did it they wouldn't watch on TV. So we tried to make sure the debut was on 'The Tonight Show.'"