The students at Glen Oaks Elementary in McKinney enjoyed a visit from a special surprise guest Wednesday morning.

Gathered in the gymnasium for an assembly celebrating the end of school, the students erupted in cheers when Principal Rhonda Gilliam welcomed Hollie Cavanagh, the American Idol contender who requires little introduction in this part of the country. 

Cavanagh, who attended Glen Oaks Elementary as a child, took a moment to share briefly about the “Hollie Pops” that fans created to benefit St. Jude Children’s Hospital. She also praised Glen Oaks kids for taking up Rachel’s Challenge and for their hard work raising money for charity through the school’s Dollar Project.

Cavanagh then graciously stepped aside to let individual students take the spotlight as they were recognized for their accomplishments during the school year.

"Our kids were so excited to have Hollie attend our special assembly today to help us celebrate the ways children can make our world a better place," Gilliam said.

"At Glen Oaks, our motto is ‘Live, Learn, Lead,’" Gilliam said. “We talk about living our lives to the fullest and pursuing things that bring joy to ourselves and others.

"All students are challenged to make their world a better place. Hollie is a great role model for our students, as she uses her special talents to bring joy to others. She brought a very special message today, encouraging our students to continue their efforts to make a difference."

At the conclusion of the assembly, Cavanagh’s multitude of young fans formed a line that spanned the gym as she tirelessly smiled for photos and signed yearbook after yearbook.  

“We appreciate Hollie for sharing her time with us!" Gilliam said.

Indeed. The kids were patient and polite; a few were completely starstruck. One boy, signed yearbook in hand, performed a celebratory dance.

And, at least one girl shed tears of joy.

Not a bad way to wrap up the school year.


About the author: Shane Mauldin is a communications specialist with the McKinney school district.