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Brandi Fowler
Aug 18, 2016 @ 2:00 pm

Vanessa Hudgens gave dozens of kids in Los Angeles a huge reason to get excited about the end of the summer and return to school. The High School Musical alum couldn’t stop beaming as she surprised students at The Accelerated School in South Central Los Angeles with brand-new pairs of Nike sneakers, and teachers with gift certificates for school supplies at an event in collaboration with Kohl’s and Adopt a Classroom Wednesday.

“It’s so exciting,” she told InStyle before the gift-giving began. “I feel like I get to be the fairy godmother. I get to fly in and magically all these sneakers appear thanks to Kohl’s—all these Nike sneakers that I get to give to about 2,000 students at the school.”

Students weren't the only beneficiaries: Teachers also received presents, in the form of $600 gift cards for classroom essentials.

“Back-to-school time is always such an exciting time. I feel so lucky to be here and be apart of everything,” Hudgens said.

Before Hudgens hosted the big giveaway inside the school’s gym, Johnathan Williams, co-founder and CEO of The Accelerated Schools, teased the excited group of children sitting on the floor of the room by sharing that someone from High School Musical would soon walk in. As the kids let out squeals with anticipation of who it could be, Williams announced Hudgens, who skipped into the room while rocking a Kohl’s polka-dot blouse, a plaid shirt tied around her waist, black leggings, a black choker, and black and white Nike kicks. The kids went wild.

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“It’s a time to set goals,” she began as she took the mic and addressed the students. “I remember being your age and writing in my journal and saying, you know, one day I want to be on Broadway. Big goal of mine. But you’ve got to write it down. I think it’s so important to write down your goals and your dreams and what you want to be, and to know that by getting the proper education, you guys can achieve anything. You can be, literally, anything you want to be.”

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After giving them that sage advice, Hudgens told students and teachers about the big gifts she was there to pass out. “Every single one of you guys gets a brand-new pair of Nike sneakers,” she said, pointing to a bunch of orange shoes stacked against a wall. “I’m going to help you guys pick which sneakers to get,” she continued, as the children screamed and cheered in delight. The teachers cheered loudly as well as they were handed giant checks.

As she finished up her speech, Hudgens encouraged the students to pay attention to their teachers and went on to help some of the kids pick out the perfect pair of shoes.

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What a fitting way to kick off back-to-school season.

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