Michael Rozman/Warner Bros.
Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2011 | 2 a.m.
- "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" featuring Justin Bieber, Whitney Elementary and Principal Sherrie Gahn will air at 3 p.m. today on KLAS Channel 8.
Map of Whitney
5005 Keenan Ave., Las Vegas
- ‘Ellen DeGeneres Show’ donates $100,000 to Whitney Elementary(9-12-2011)
- Whitney principal wants after-school program patterned after first lady’s (3-14-2010)
- School District donors still giving, but will they outlast need? (5-10-2010)
- School of haves bonds with one of have-nots (2-19-2009)
- Sharp rise in homeless students (9-15-2008)
- School goes all out to help poor kids learn (6-3-2008)
Beyond the Sun
- For information about helping homeless students in the Clark County School District, call the outreach office at 855-6682. Whitney Elementary School can be reached at 799-7790.
Students at one Las Vegas elementary school will be running a fever this winter… a Bieber fever that is.
Teenage heartthrob Justin Bieber surprised hundreds of Whitney Elementary School students on Monday by pledging to match a $100,000 check from Target earlier this year and announcing a special holiday performance for the students in December.
Bieber made the surprise announcement during a taping of “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” which showcased the poor, East Las Vegas elementary school for the show’s ninth season premiere in September. During that episode, DeGeneres presented a $100,000 check from Target to Principal Sherrie Gahn to help her schoolchildren, many of them homeless and the majority from poor families.
Over the years, Whitney has become more than just a school for its 610 students and their families. It’s their food pantry, clothing depot and supply shop. It’s a place where kids can get free haircuts, dental care and glasses. It’s where parents can learn to read and get help if they fall behind on their rent.
“Toothpaste, toiletries, food. These are a few things we just take for granted that these kids don’t get,” said Gahn, who has dedicated eight years at Whitney ensuring that her students are fed, clothed and educated properly.
Gahn’s selfless drive to help her students has been featured on CNN and CBS News and nearly every newspaper and TV station in town. The publicity has helped the school raise thousands of dollars of donations from local businesses and charities to help Whitney students.
Since the Ellen show aired in September, Gahn has been overwhelmed by e-mails, packages and donations from all across the country, she said. Unlike previous media appearances, the donations have persisted months after the Ellen show aired, she said.
On Monday, Gahn said she received a letter from a Chicago-area high school whose student council was so inspired by the Ellen feature, they threw a benefit dance and sent a $1,000 check to Whitney.
“I’m so grateful and so humbled by all of our donors,” Gahn said. “It means the world to us.”
Now, all the publicity has caught the attention of the latest pop sensation. The Ellen show featuring Bieber making his pledge to donate $100,000 to Whitney elementary will air today at 3 p.m. on KLAS Channel 8.
Gahn - who was flown out by DeGeneres to her Burbank, Calif. studio in September – was in Las Vegas for the taping on Monday. Just like before, hundreds of Whitney students gathered in the school’s multipurpose room and waited to be greeted by Bieber and DeGeneres via a live television feed.
“It was really surreal,” Gahn said, adding that the show felt like family. “Standing there, listening to these unbelievable celebrities talking about your school, it’s incredible. ”
After Bieber announced he would perform songs from his new Christmas album "Under The Mistletoe" for Whitney students in December, some students burst out crying, Gahn said. They’ve never felt so special before in their lives, she said.
“For the kids, it shows that someone loves them and cares about them to follow up,” she said. “When you live in an existence where everything seems so hopeless, it’s an amazing gift they will never forget. It’s beyond their wildest dreams.”