The 93 fourth-graders won a competition sponsored by radio station 97.1 ZHT that rewarded the grade-level and school that had entered the most anti-bullying pledges on the radio station's Web site. The prize, which Principal Debbie Shumard learned about Friday, was that the fourth-graders at her school would take a break from studying state history to receive a visit from Cosgrove.
For over an hour Wednesday, Cosgrove stood under a black tent perched in the cafeteria, which is festooned with 53 flags of different countries. She met each of the nervous fourth-graders, who received an autographed picture of the TV star and had their photos taken with her. Even after they received their gifts, the students with parents in tow couldn't stop watching Cosgrove, stylishly dressed in a long white blouse, short tan jacket, skinny jeans and black boots.
After Cosgrove met each of the students, she stood by as Lorenzo Case, general sales manager at nearby Stockton to Malone Honda, presented a $500 check to Shumard to aid in the school's anti-bullying campaign. Before Cosgrove left the cafeteria, she had her pictures taken with, among other people, two local police officers who provided security. Students started chanting, "Sing! Sing! Sing!," but Cosgrove politely demurred.
Cosgrove has recently ascended to the upper echelon of tween stardom, now that other stars such as Demi Lovato and Miley Cyrus have been rocked by scandal and Selena Gomez has removed her purity ring while dating Justin Bieber. The dark-tressed and squeaky-clean star has become an industry, with movie roles and a nascent singing career accompanying her status as the lead character of one of the most-watched series on Nickelodeon. She is reportedly the second-highest paid child star in Hollywood, behind only the child in "Two and a Half Men." Just this past Sunday, her face graced the cover of The New York Times Magazine.
Kamila Ruiz, 9, missed her bedtime the previous night by two hours all the way to 11:30 p.m. because she was so excited to meet Cosgrove. After receiving the autographed picture from Cosgrove which read, "Kamila, You Rock!" she said she wouldn't let anyone else touch the picture, especially not her 6-year-old sister. Kamila pledged to post the picture high up on her side of the bedroom she shared with the sister.
Cameryn Bennion, 9, wearing a brightly colored shirt that read "Cupcake Attack," also prized Cosgrove's autographed picture, which was the first time Cameryn had received an autograph from a person so famous. Cameryn admitted that she had bullied her older sister in the past, but was now committed to ending the practice. "People don't realize it's hurting them and they grow up being afraid of people," Cameryn said.
Carolyn Powell escorted her grand-daughter to the meet-and-greet. Her grandkids had forced her to record more than 70 episodes of the show on her DVR, but she didn't mind, saying that Cosgrove was a good role model.
Cosgrove had arrived in Utah the afternoon of the meet-and-greet, and after the event went straight to the airport. All she left were smiles on young children's faces, including 6-year-old Makenna Anderson, who couldn't help beaming despite missing three upper teeth and two on the bottom.