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Britney Spears Goes Back to School – for a Cause

10/01/2008 at 05:50 PM EDT

Britney Spears Goes Back to School – for a Cause
Britney Spears (center), with school principal Casimiro V. Cibelli and Mary Beth Mazzotta, from Elizabeth Arden
Courtesy Yamil Perez
A New York middle school got a surprise visitor: Britney Spears.

The pop star dropped by John Philip Sousa M. S. 142 in The Bronx on Wednesday to present a $10,000 check to be used as an endowment for the school's year-old music program.

As she entered the school (which was not in session due to the Jewish holiday), she was treated to a performance by the Sousatones, the school's eight-piece band, led by director Sal Mazzola.

"When you're ready to take us on the road for an opening act, we're ready," he told Spears.

Spears, who plans to tour in 2009, replied: "You'll be the first people I call."

Mazzola told the students in advance they would be playing for a "high-profile" guest, but they only learned it would be Spears earlier that morning. (Some kids guessed it would be P. Diddy or Barack Obama.)

Spears was also serenaded by a chorus of seven girls, including soloist Rachel Lewis, 14, who sang "I Am Woman."

The donation came from Elizabeth Arden, which is behind Spears's fragrances, Believe, Fantasy and Curious.

"I really enjoyed the time I spent at the John Philip Sousa Middle School," Spears tells PEOPLE. "I've been working with the people at Elizabeth Arden for the last five years, and I know how passionate everyone is about the school. I loved hearing the school orchestra and the children sang so beautifully. The fact that Elizabeth Arden made such a large donation for the school music studio in my name was so generous."

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