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San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Quinton Patton lies down with Ms. Barber's kindergarten class at the East Palo Alto Charter School on Wednesday, June 11, 2014. The kindergarten class wrote letters to Patton requesting a visit to the school, which just finished a program named "Get Fit Eat Right" designed to promote a healthy diet and exercise.

The students at East Palo Alto Charter School were in for quite a surprise Wednesday afternoon during an assembly in the courtyard, courtesy of Ms. Barber's kindergarten class.

Waiting in the library to meet the 407 boys and girls was San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Quinton Patton. A fourth-round pick out of Louisiana Tech in the 2013 NFL draft, the 23-year-old was invited to the campus in a letter mailed by the youngest bunch in school.

"Our goal this year has been around writing and finding your voice as a writer," said EPACS Principal Sharon Johnson, whose student body is comprised of kindergartners through sixth-graders. "Even in kindergarten, we taught them to write persuasive pieces and this was one of the things that they had the option of writing. So they rallied together as a class and genuinely wrote the letter to invite him to this campus. It was really exciting to see that even 5-year-olds are powerful writers."

Patton said he was excited about his first community appearance as a 49er.

"You never know how you impact people's lives until you see them at a young age," Patton said. "Growing up, I looked up to Steve McNair and Eddie George because I'm from the Nashville area and they impacted my life just to be out there playing. And for me to be in the position that I am now, I have to give back."

In a lively assembly, Patton was introduced by P.E. teacher Stephen Ashford to a roar of screams and plenty of applause. Asked to help the kids with a cheer, Patton picked up the microphone and knew the perfect one: "Who's got it better than us?"

Without hesitation, the boys and girls belted out "Nobody!"


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"I'm pretty sure the kids will not forget about this and he probably gained a whole lot of new friends," Ashford said. "For him to come from practice to here to just give some time to the kids, that meant a lot to me and a lot of our kids and teachers."

The school had just completed a weeklong campaign dubbed "Get Fit Eat Right" that stressed avoiding junk food and at least 30 minutes of exercise a day.

"I got better at eating healthier," sixth-grader Jennifer Galvez said.

"I eat more vegetables at my house," classmate Vanessa Mendoza said. "And I listen to my mom."

Patton's appearance was a bonus reward for the kids, as he tackled subjects ranging from grades, diet and fitness to bullying.

"Nobody wants to be lazy and sit around all the time," said Patton, who also played baseball, basketball and ran track for a year. "Now they have the iPads and they get to play and to sit around the house. But when I was younger, they would just tell me go outside and come inside when the street lights come on. That's my exercise for the day."

Thanks to a bunch of 5-year-old writers, the boys and girls at EPACS got to meet a 49er and be reminded of the importance of healthy living.

"We really have to start early in making sure that they get that message of healthy eating and exercise internalized," Johnson said. "Because this is a community that really struggles with obesity, and healthy living from the start makes you better in school."

Email Vytas Mazeika at vmazeika@dailynewsgroup.com; follow him at Twitter.com/dailynewsvytas.