CHECOTAH — Christmas is over for another year, but the staff and students at Checotah Public Schools still have gifts coming in — from Apple computers to band instruments.
Country music superstar Carrie Underwood, Checotah's most famous graduate, made wishes come true at her alma mater over the holidays, donating another $350,000 to the district through her Checotah Animal, Town, and School Foundation.
“It's wonderful. Carrie, she is such a great kid. We've known her all her life, and we're so thankful that ... she hasn't forgotten where she grew up,” Assistant Superintendent Toni Brown said.
All four of Checotah's schools will benefit from the donation.
“Late last year each of the schools created a list of their needs and I am so thrilled that the C.A.T.S. Foundation was able to fund it all,” Underwood said in a news release. “It gives me great joy knowing we are helping my hometown schools to offer an even better education to the students. They deserve it.”
In October, the 2005 “American Idol” winner returned to her hometown to help 200 volunteers assemble a custom-designed playground at Marshall Elementary School. Underwood hinted then that her foundation soon would be giving more aid to the district.
“I've been blessed in my life, and God's given me so much. And it is my responsibility to pass it on, I feel. I'm going to get to do a lot more,” she said.
Marshall Elementary, which has about 430 prekindergarten through second-grade pupils, will use the funds for computer software, a stage curtain for the auditorium, and new ground cover and shaded areas around the new playground.
“I was proud of it before, but now it's really amazing. ... People can come and play any time and there's a place to have a picnic, enjoy the children and have family time,” Principal Jann Ledbetter said in October.