NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – It’s a special surprise for students at Chicora Elementary who are working to change their community. They did not expect anything for their hard work, only to make a difference — But now they’re preparing for a magical experience.  

We traveled to North Charleston for the News 2 Cool School of the week.

“We’re going to Disney World” P.E. teacher Bree Jackson exclaimed with excitement as students unrolled the banner with the announcement.

An all-expenses paid trip to Disney World! A big surprise for students at Chicora Elementary in North Charleston.  

The students are all a part of Chicora Changers, a new community service club. They worked to pick up litter around the school and local beaches, and created gifts for others, just to name a few of their efforts.  

Teachers Bree Jackson and Courtney Gruber serve as mentors for the club. “They have to display the characteristics of a Chicora Changer, so being a leader, being helpful, kind, and caring.  We wanted to make a community service club where the students who wanted to be helpful can make a difference in our school. They were nominated to join our club, and they’ve been helping out in our school, and outside our school with lots of different opportunities,” said Jackson.

She went on to say, “We’ve done a beach clean-up, a lot of time we do a lot of trash pick-up here in our local area, but we’re always looking for ways we can help.”

“These are kids who are always the leading example in their class, always following expectations, and doing the thing we want every other kid in the room to do. They’re natural leaders. They’re all doing well in class. They are kind to others, and they are great picks for our club,” added music teacher Courtney  Gruber.

This is the first year for Chicora Changers, and these students are changing the world around them, one act at a time.

“I like helping the community. We pick up the trash and save all the animals,” said third-grade student Sama’j Wright.

Chicora is a community school with 325 students in first through fifth grade. Businesses, school staff, and families sponsored thirty students for the special trip.

“I’m super excited and can’t wait to go. Chicora Changers is an awesome group I think,” said fourth-grade student  Krislyn Sams.

Jeanette Toney works with CSL Plasma, which sponsored one of the students. She said, “We sponsored Sama’J. I was impressed with her name. They wanted to send some of the bright and special kids on a trip. So we decided, you know what we would like to be a part of that, and we are a part of the community. I think it’s great.  I grew up in this area, anything that will help them is touching to my heart.”  

Sama’J says she is surprised, happy and excited. “I think it’s a great opportunity. I like everything about the Chicora Changers. To me, it’s a big thing,” said Sama’J’s father, Antonio Wright. “The community coming together to help out in the schools from all over Charleston, to surrounding areas helping out. I think it’s a great thing for all the kids. I love it. I love everything about it. I’m thankful.”

Teacher Bree Jackson says students did not know they would be rewarded with a trip.

“Really a lot of the sponsors when they saw what the students were doing, they didn’t know it was a reward trip, they wanted to make a difference in a student’s life. We’re really rewarding that desire to help others and expecting nothing in return,” said Jackson.  

Jared White and his wife sponsored two students. “That was one of the most heartwarming things I’ve seen. All their mouths dropped. It was really awesome. My wife and I sponsored. My wife volunteers here as a “Be a Mentor” and works with the students. What an awesome opportunity to see them rewarded for the volunteer work they do around Chicora and this program, warms your heart to see them get this opportunity to get some benefit from their hard work and efforts.”

Second-grade student Danaisha Prioleau says she has never been to Disney World.  She says, “I’m excited. I was about to cry. I was shocked.”  

“This trip is so awesome. This year, our school theme is cultivating a brighter community. With this trip, it’s that and even more. We’re fortunate to have teachers who initiated this program, and our business partners and community who sponsored the trip to Disney World for our kids who show kindness and compassion for our community,” Principal Monica Smalls said.

“They do a lot to appreciate us. I’m excited. I’ve never been there, and I think it’s fun to try out new things,” added Chicora Changers president Demarrion Ellison.

To the people who made this possible, Demarrion said: “Thank you, and we appreciate it.  We’re going to Disney!”  

A trip to a magical world that will introduce many to a whole new world. “For some of them, when we had that beach trip, it was their first time to the beach and the ocean, so for some I think it’s going to open their mind to how big the world is,” Jackson said.

Students will head to the most magical place on earth on May 21st.

If you would like to nominate a Cool School or educator, send an email to Octavia Mitchell at