Parents, students and the teacher were surprised to see Shaquille O'Neal in the virtual classroom.
Photo: Matthew Still
Photo: Matthew Still

Shaquille O’Neal crashes Henry County first graders’ online lesson 

Learning about Aristotle isn’t normally in a first grader’s curriculum. However, when The Big Aristotle decides to take part in the lesson, you make exceptions. 

Parents of a Henry County first grade class said they were shocked when former NBA superstar Shaquille O’Neal joined their virtual lesson Tuesday. 

A video posted online shows O’Neal chatting via webcam with students from East Lake Elementary School. 

Henry County Schools — along with every other school in Georgia — closed March 16 amid the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus. Since then, Henry teachers and students have been using a remote learning system to hold classes electronically. 

RELATED: Kemp orders public K-12 schools, colleges in Georgia closed through end of March

The surprise visit happened when the East Lake class convened for their lesson Tuesday, according to Matt Still. Still, whose daughter is in the class, posted the video of the exchange on YouTube. 

“They were doing the lesson Tuesday and Shaquille O’Neal was randomly on the call,” he said. 

Even the teacher was surprised to see the Diesel himself had joined the virtual lesson. 

In the video, O’Neal can be heard greeting the East Lake teacher. 

“Hello,” she responds, moments before saying: “Is that Shaq?” 

“Apparently one of the other parents works with him,” Still said, “and he was just on there. Nobody knew he was going to join the call. It was really cool.”

Still said the virtual visit was a pleasant surprise while parents are adjusting to online learning. 

“The attention span of young kids is already so short,” he said. “If they aren’t in an environment where their interest is piqued immediately, they can get distracted.” 

Being surrounded by distractions that they normally wouldn’t have at school could make online learning difficult, he said. However, uplifting moments that increase positivity can make a big difference during a trying time. 

“It’s hard on the students and teachers and parents, but we are doing the best that we can and making the best of the situation,” he said. “You never know what something small — like Shaquille O’Neal hopping on a webcam — can do for people’s spirits.” 

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