Ellen & Shutterfly Surprise DC’s Ballou High School & Darrell Watson


Ellen: Darrell Watson Ballou High School Band

In nine years, Ellen DeGeneres has met a lot of entertaining and inspiring people. Today, she looked back at the story of Washington, DC, band director Darrell Watson.

His first appearance on Ellen was long enough ago that Ellen had shoulder length hair. Darrell recalled how comfortable Ellen made him during his chat with her.


Ellen: Ballou Band

Ellen got to see a live performance by Washington DC's Ballou High School Band.

“Not only did she surprise the band with a check in the amount of $25,000, little did we know right around the corner was a check for the school for $75,000,” he recalled. “It just lifted up our community. It showed us someone outside really cared about the academics and the education.”

In a later appearance, the band got to perform on the show, and Darrell said he shared a special moment with Ellen, who told him she loves him. These days, Ballou Senior High School is doing OK, but still struggling to make the best for their students with the resources they have.


Ellen: Darrell Watson Update

Ellen invited Darrell back to her show, and he enthusiastically danced his way out onstage like any of the show’s other star guests. I don’t think he’s nervous anymore. “You make me happy,” Ellen told him.

Darrell has kept in touch with the show, to keep them abreast of what the school has been able to do with help from Ellen and friends. They consider each other family, and feel blessed to be connected. It’s the power of television in the absolute best way.

Ellen recalled that Ballou is in a rough part of the nation’s capital, and the teachers and staff there really go out of their way to help students achieve.

“We try to pride ourselves on success. It’s very important that we encourage our students to start the day off with a successful attitude,” he said.

Ellen: Ballou High School Live Performance

Ellen surprised Darrell by sending Jeannie to the school, where she was standing by with the marching band. They gave a performance of the classic song “Celebrate,” and these kids are really pretty good. Jeannie danced along, but I’d say Darrell has better moves.

As a surprise for Ballou students, Ellen partnered with Shutterfly to promise each of the school’s students with a customized photo yearbook. Of course, Ellen had one more surprise up her sleeve. Shutterfly threw in a $100,000 check for the school.

That’s some feel good television right there. If only Ellen were in charge of our nation’s education funding, we’d be in amazing shape.


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