Students in south Charlotte recently had the chance to go Christmas shopping with one of Charlotte’s biggest celebrities.
Eight students from Collinswood Language Academy in south Charlotte, along with 16 other students from Berryhill School and Reid Park Academy, had a firsthand chance Monday, Dec. 16, to go shopping at Dick’s Sporting Goods in Pineville with Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, as well as teammates Brandon LaFell and Derek Anderson, thanks to a sponsorship from Newton’s foundation.
“It’s very energizing to come out and be with these kids and take them on a shopping spree,” Newton said. The foundation gave each participating student a free Under Armour T-shirt and bag, a set of Beats by Dre headphones and a $150 gift card to spend at the Dick’s store. “It’s the season of giving with the holidays… It’s been great to see (the foundation) flourish and that’s in part because of my foundation staff,” Newton said.
The Cam Newton Foundation, which exists to enhance the lives of kids by addressing socioeconomic, educational, physical and emotional needs, recently selected the three schools as this year’s partners for the Cam Newton Foundation School Pride Program. The foundation’s theme, “Every 1 Matters,” helps address the foundation’s focus on the need for charity service programs and emphasizes the importance of making education a priority. All three partner schools received $25,000 grants last month to help boost school pride and academic achievement. Collinswood, which is a kindergarten through eighth-grade school, will use the money to upgrade fitness equipment, develop student wellness programs and purchase books about health.
Collinswood Principal Nicolette Grant said the money will provide more fitness opportunities for all Collinswood students since the school currently does not offer athletics.
“We have the academics,” Grant said. “We want to make sure (the students) are getting that fitness piece, too.”
But getting the grant was just a start to the yearlong partnership. Grant and assistant principal Jack McIver, who both chaperoned the eight students at Dick’s, are thankful for the opportunity given to their school and students. McIver said he’s happy to see Collinswood getting some attention and is happy the partnership works to showcase the schools.
The eight students, four girls and four boys, included students who won a school essay contest, as well as one student from South Mecklenburg High School who tutors students at Collinswood. All of the students also have shown great behavior and strong academics, Grant said, another reason they were all chosen to attend.
“They were so excited for this event,” Grant said. “They said this is an opportunity of a lifetime.”
For sixth-grade Collinswood student Jocelyn Williams, having the opportunity to meet the Panthers players was the most exciting part of the shopping trip, she said. She watches the team weekly with her dad, who is a big fan.
“I was really excited, and I felt like this was a fun opportunity to have,” Jocelyn said as she shopped for new shoes, kneepads and new outfits for volleyball. “I’ll probably watch even more football now.”
Although the opportunity was exciting, Jocelyn said the hardest part was keeping the spree a secret while at school, since the official announcement wasn’t made until the day of the event.
“I talked less all of last week,” Jocelyn laughed, adding it was worth it in the end.
Find more information about the Cam Newton Foundation at www.camnewton