Olympic star brightens day for four Gulfport schools - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Olympic star brightens day for four Gulfport schools

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GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) -

Friday was "Brittney Reese Day" in the Gulfport School District and four schools hosted celebrations to honor their golden girl. The Olympic champion was showered with gifts and love, and she even showed off some of her athletic skills.

The moment Brittney Reese walked through the doors of Bayou View Middle School on Friday, the cheering in the gym reached an ear-splitting crescendo.

"I felt like I was walking down to the track. I have a lot of fans overseas, and I feel like I got a lot of fans here," said Brittney Reese.

"Oh, it was amazing, because I expected her to be exactly like she was. I was just excited," said eighth grader Christina Jones.

Standing on the very court she once played basketball on as a child, Brittney expressed her deep gratitude for the outpouring of support.

"This is a great day for me. I want all you all to be encouraged and learn from this," Reese told the crowd.

Brittney explained how hard work and perseverance helped her along the road from Gulfport to the London Olympics.

"That should be able to tell you all that it doesn't matter where you come from in order to succeed. I want to encourage you all to continue to follow your dreams," said Reese.

The school presented Brittney with some mementoes and the Gulfport Kiwanis Club honored Brittney with a banner. It will hang at Gulfport High School to remind students how far Brittney jumped to win Olympic gold, and how they too can go the distance.

"I'm running cross country for the school and that inspires me to do better than most of my teammates, so I can succeed just like her," said eighth grader Austin Norris.

Before she left the school, Brittney got a chance to take part in one final race. She ran while trying to balance an orange on a spoon.

She also graciously stopped for hugs and pictures. Brittney's former teachers beamed with pride, noticing that Brittney has not forgotten one lesson -- to always remember her roots.

"She's a hometown girl. We're so proud of her and it was just so awesome to see her today, and she's blessed us so much," said her former math teacher Mary West.

"It's fabulous! It's been a lot of years since we taught her. There aren't many of us old timers left here at this school," said another former math teacher Marcelle Patterson.

Brittney Reese also visited Pass Road Elementary and Anniston Elementary Friday. During a stop at Gulfport High, she announced a $3,000 scholarship fund for seniors. Plus, the school gave her a surprise gift, a concrete monument listing her athletic accomplishments.

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