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'Dre rewards elementary school


Last season, Andre Johnson challenged the students of Bastian Elementary to improve their academics, citizenship and attendance record. On Wednesday, the wide receiver returned to the school to reward those who had shown excellence in all three areas.

"I came back to give awards to the kids," Johnson said. "There were 10 kids that stood up to that challenge. This was just something to give back to them for standing up to the challenge."

{QUOTE}Johnson handed out trophies, Texans hats and $100 Toys R' Us gift certificates to two outstanding students from each grade. He surprised the youngsters by giving all fifth-grade students a pizza party for recording the best attendance of any class at Bastian.

"They were really excited about it," Johnson said. "I know when I was their age and we had a pizza party, we were pretty excited about it.

"Sometimes it doesn't take much to put a smile on someone's face or a kid's face. If it's something as small as giving a pizza party and challenging kids to make them better and make the community better, then it's something I'll do all the time."

Johnson's final award went to a fifth-grade girl for winning an essay competition the wide receiver held in honor of Mother's Day. The student wrote an endearing story about her mother coming to the United States and working several jobs so she could move her family from Mexico to Houston. Johnson gave the girl's mother a day at the spa and seafood dinner with her family.

After the awards ceremony, the Texan spoke to the children about the importance of hard work in academics and extracurricular activities. He told the students that many people don't realize that playing football is a seven-day-a-week job, because all fans see are the games on Sundays. He said that excelling in football requires extreme discipline and persistence.

Johnson finished the day by fielding questions from the students. Several students asked what he will do when his football career ends. Johnson responded that he would like to be a high school football coach.

One student wanted to know if Johnson had held another job. Johnson shared the story of working at a car wash as a youngster.

"I was probably about 12 or 13 years old, and it was one summer and my mom got tired of me sitting in the house," Johnson said. "So I found a car wash job."

Johnson's visit to Bastian fell during the team's week off between mini-camp and OTAs. Johnson said liked what he saw from his team in their first practices of 2008, especially the talent in the new draft class.

"It was great to have the rookies there," Johnson said. "Hopefully, when OTAs start, they'll come back and have a little more knowledge of the playbook and they can go out and help our team win."

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