Principal Jeanette Jennings said Ngata’s visit was a surprise to the students, and when he walked in faces lit up.
“We only knew he was coming for about a week, so we kept it a secret,” Jennings said. “When he walked in the door you could tell the kids who knew him — their eyes got big and their mouths dropped. It was nice to see.”
The Super Bowl winning defensive tackle spoke with students about the importance of working hard and setting goals. Jennings said he also gave his views on bullying, and offered some strategies for coping with a bully.
Ngata also took time to answer questions from the students.
“The majority of the discussion was him taking questions from the students, which was great,” Jennings said. “They asked some wonderful questions related to sports and decisions he made.”
Jennings said one student asked Ngata what he would be doing if he wasn’t playing football. Ngata said he loved math growing up and probably would have chosen to be a math teacher.
A fifth-grade teacher at the school, who had a mutual friend who knew Ngata, arranged the visit, Jennings said. After he finished speaking, four randomly selected students—one from each class—received signed Ngata jerseys.