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.
Don't WorryShe also told the kids, noting this is something she also has told her son Louis over the past four years, "Stop worrying so much. I don't remember any of the moments in my life where I worried. Raise the bar higher. Nothing is a failure it's just not supposed to work out."
In addition, she found time to mention: "Eat something green every day. Do not pick your nose in public. How about we just go get a tissue? When someone who cares about you hugs you, hug them back. If someone doesn't want to play with you, it's okay. Not everybody is going to love us.
"And last but not least go find your joy. It's what you're going to remember in the end. It's not the worry, it's not the what-ifs. It's the joy that stays with you. And I want to thank you for the joy that Warren Easton brings me every day."