Sandra Bullock Gives Surprise Graduation Speech

Sandra Bullock

Gregg DeGuire/Getty

updated 05/19/2014 AT 11:00 AM ET

originally published 05/19/2014 AT 2:30 PM ET

Caps, gowns, diplomas – and a surprise appearance from an Oscar-winning superstar.

When nearly 200 members of the Warren Easton Charter High School Class of 2014 entered the University of New Orleans Lakefront Arena for their graduation ceremony Monday morning, they had no idea their pal Sandra Bullock was going to be there to celebrate with them.

Hidden from the crowd, Bullock stood on the side of the stage and clapped for the graduates before emerging and being introduced to thunderous applause.

“You know at Warren Easton, you are loved and appreciated and supported for what you have to offer,” she told the students. “I was trying to remember my graduation and, oddly, I couldn’t remember anything. I remembered how good I looked and then I went back and looked at pictures and I really didn’t look so good.”

She added, “I didn’t remember anything, because I was so worried about the future.”

Bullock, 49, who adopted the school after it was heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to help rebuild the historic campus, pay for band uniforms and athletic equipment, and has also helped to open a health clinic at the school, as well as funded scholarships for graduating seniors.

Easton is the oldest public high school in Louisiana, and Bullock, who received a People’s Choice Award for her work there, told PEOPLE in 2010 that she adopted the school after Katrina because she “felt such a profound need to do something for them.”

Bullock’s connection to New Orleans strengthened when she adopted her son, Louis, 4, there. She also owns a home in the Garden District.


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