ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --As sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students walked outside to continue their "College Bound" pep rally, they were overcome with excitement as they saw six larger-than-life guests hoping to join the fun.
Broncos players surprised the students at Grant Beacon Middle School in Denver on Tuesday as they participated in an assembly that promoted the idea of students aiming to attend college.
The players in attendance were linebacker Steven Johnson, cornerback Tony Carter, long snapper Aaron Brewer, tackle Adam Grant, safety Duke Ihenacho and defensive end Jamie Blatnick.
The event was put on by Mile High United Way in partnership with the Broncos. It is a part of the organization's "Be a Champion in the Community" campaign that was launched in April, in which players travel around the area to show their support and spread a positive influence to the citizens of Colorado.
"My message to these kids is college is the most fun you'll have in your life," Johnson said. "You'll meet a whole bunch of new people. You'll decide what you want to do and what you want to be in your life. It's just great."
Just as the students were spellbound at the sight of six Denver Broncos at their school, Johnson was equally amazed at the overwhelming support that the kids showed towards the day's message -- the importance of attending college.
"I kind of got taken back when the principal was like, 'What are we?' And everybody yelled, 'College bound!'" Johnson recalled. "That's really important. When you go to college, that sets up your whole life. You don't necessarily think about college in eighth grade. Some people do, some people don't. But as you get older, it becomes essential to the person you want to be."
At the pep rally, students interacted with players as they covered their hands with yellow paint and stamped their handprint onto a college bound-themed mural that hugged the outer-lining of the school's baseball field.
Grant Beacon Middle School Principal Alex Magaña said that having the players be a part of it helped further promote the importance of attending college.
"The kids will remember this," Magaña said. "I told the kids when the (players) came out, these guys set goals for themselves and they achieved those goals. It's the same exact concept. The kids need to set goals for themselves, and then they will achieve those goals."
Creating a yellow handprint on the mural symbolized the students' commitment to being college bound.
"It brought me back to when I was the same age," Brewer said. "I think it's a good message to have. I never had that when I was in school. They're still young, and they still have to go to high school, but it's a great idea to have them start thinking about it."
The players' reactions to the event showed that the students weren't the only ones who were impacted in a positive way.
"I feel like I'm a little part of Denver," said Johnson, a rookie from Kansas. "I can always come over here and be like, 'Hey, that's my handprint,' and say I gave back to this school. It was a great opportunity for me to do that."
Click here to view photos from the event.