EASLEY — Students at McKissick Elementary School turned the tables on mentor Delvin Choice when he showed up to give the kids a pizza party by giving him a surprise of their own — a birthday party.
“He didn’t know that we knew it was his birthday,” said Anita Richardson, assistant principal at McKissick. “He has just done so much for these kids, he’s been amazing. We wanted to give something back.”
Choice, a Greenville singer and runner-up on the reality television show The Voice, has been visiting the students at McKissick for the past couple of years.
His message is one of encouragement and self-worth — with just a little bit of sass thrown in for good measure.
“We are the dream makers and we are the change makers,” he said on his first visit to the school. It’s a mantra the staff and students have taken to heart.
Since then, Choice has made repeated visits back to the school, declaring himself the students’ unofficial mentor in 2016 and 2017 — much to the kids’ delight.
On Wednesday, Choice wheeled in a cart loaded up with 40 cheese and pepperoni pizzas for students who had participated in last year’s toy drive for The Dream Center.
“I think we bought too many,” Choice joked. “We’re going to have to just spend the day handing out pizzas to random people on the street!”
After the kids came in the lunch room and chowed down on a slice or two, McKissick Principal Gary Mohr came in carrying a birthday cake.
“Oh my goodness, this is the best surprise ever,” yelled Choice after the kids all sang “Happy Birthday” and he blew out 28 flaming candles.
“I haven’t had a lot of birthdays, but I think this is my very favorite one,” he said. “You guys are the best.”
Choice didn’t set an exact return date — he likes to keep everyone on their toes — but if the past two years are anything to judge by, he won’t stay gone for very long.
“I just love these kids,” he said. “They are so smart, so talented. This is my privilege, getting to come here. My honor. I know you all call me their mentor but really, they’re mine.”
Reach Kasie Strickland at 864-855-0355.