TAMPA — Students at C. Leon King High School got a surprise Friday afternoon when rapper Bow Wow showed up in their cafeteria.
The star joined DJ Ekin of WBTP, 95.7-FM The Beat, in a motivational speech. About 120 students got see the pair during an assembly.
Bow Wow's appearance was supposed to be a surprise, but students somehow found out, Assistant Principal Martha McFarland said. The fun nearly turned sour when Bow Wow failed to arrive as planned. While students and faculty anxiously awaited the rapper's arrival, Ekin carried on with his talk.
Ekin, The Beat's mix show coordinator who bills himself as "Tampa's most connected DJ," is the founder of ConnXions, a nonprofit group that teaches adolescents the importance of setting goals and networking.
"It's built upon the premise of the power of building relationships, one handshake at a time," said Ekin, 31. Whenever possible, he brings a celebrity to attract the kids' attention to his message.
Having been delayed en route from Miami, Bow Wow's bus pulled in at 2:40 p.m, just as the bell signaled the end of the school day. A handful of students left, but most stayed to see the celebrity.
When Bow Wow entered the cafeteria, the students' shrieks were so loud that it was hard to hear his message. Teens stood on tables to get a glimpse of him as they waved promotional posters. Students were even allowed to snap photos on their cell phones, which are normally banned in school.
Bow Wow's appearance lasted about four minutes, and he kept his message brief: "I'm not trying to preach to y'all," he said. "Whatever you want out of life, just set a goal and go for it."
Bow Wow then exited the building, climbed the stairs to his bus and rode off. He also had radio interviews Friday afternoon and a gig later at Club Skye in Ybor City.
However short, Bow Wow's appearance left a big impression on the students.
"I think that most of them are just really impressed that a pop icon has decided to visit their school," McFarland said.
Bow Wow, born Shad Gregory Moss in Columbus, Ohio, started his career as Lil Bow Wow after being discovered by rapper Snoop Dogg. He released his first album, Beware of Dog, in 2000 and has since had many hit records and movies, including 2002's Like Mike and 2005's Roll Bounce.
"I was shocked to see Bow Wow come here," said sophomore Moshé Finlayson, 16, who likes the rapper's single Marco Polo and his current radio hit You Can Get It All. "King is a school that people look down on."
Added sophomore Sam Woulard, 16, "This stuff doesn't really happen here."
Dalia Colón can be reached at (813) 225-3112 or firstname.lastname@example.org.