Oprah surprises Newark high school with $500,000 donation

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Oprah donates $500k to New Jersey school

Principal Akbar Cook changed many of his students’ lives in when he began opening West Side High School in Newark, New Jersey on Friday nights so students would have a place to go. Now Oprah Winfrey is helping keep the project going.

She surprised Cook and nearly 400 of his students Friday evening, and pledged $500,000 to help fund the “Lights On” program through the summer.

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“So I heard about West Side and all the great things that are happening here,” Winfrey told the students. “So I’m going to leave here tonight and leave you with a half a million dollars,” Winfrey said to cheers.

Winfrey also gave the students Shop Rite gift cards and a pizza party.

The full report on Winfrey’s visit to West Side High School will be broadcast on “CBS This Morning” on Monday, May 20.

Winfrey said she was inspired to get involved after watching a report by Jeff Glor on “CBS Evening News.” In an effort to create an environment where students could succeed, Cook also added laundry room for students. As Cook told Glor, many of the students were missing school because they were getting bullied for wearing dirty clothes.

“I think we really put the microscope on basic needs of kids. Everyone wants the high test scores, everyone wants them to perform well. But if the kid doesn’t feel confidence in just coming to school, being that person we know they can be, then what are we doing,” Cook told Glor.

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