Ashton Kutcher surprises students in small-town Iowa
It started out as a typical Thursday for the 700 students at Oskaloosa High School.
But when the principal came on the intercom and asked them to gather in the auditorium for some "news to share," it turned out to be anything but normal.
Since October, the Oskaloosa High School Student Council has worked to raise pledges and money for The Native Fund — a non-profit started by Iowa natives Ashton Kutcher and Dallas Clark.
The non-profit organization donates to Iowans in need, such as veterans, children and those impacted by natural disasters. It also takes pledges by Iowans who may be able to assist in other ways, such as sand bagging before a flood.
So when the Osklaoosa student council learned The Native Fund was going to be the statewide project initiative by the Iowa Association of Student Councils, they jumped into action.
At every home basketball game, computers were set up for residents and students to donate money or pledge to help, said Kim Gile, student council adviser and business teacher at the high school.
By the March 1 deadline, she said they raised $4,000 and 700 pledges.
On March 10, Gile learned the student council raised more than anyone else in the state.
She also learned that Kutcher would be coming to the school, but she had to keep it secret.
"They wanted to make it a surprise for our kids," Gile said.
So on Thursday, as the students sat in George Daily Auditorium with no clue why they were asked to meet there, several speakers came out, including people from the school and The Native Fund to congratulate them on a job well done.
Then, former University of Iowa football player and executive director of The Native Fund Kyle McCann introduced a surprise guest to the stage — Ashton Kutcher.
"The kids were taking pictures by the thousands," Gile said. "They started clapping and cheering."
Kutcher thanked the students for helping the non-profit and raising awareness of Iowans in need.
He told them, "Just because you're a kid from Iowa, don’t think you can’t have big dreams," Gile said.
As he spoke with the students, his wife, actress Mila Kunis, was also on the stage, Gile said.
"I'm just proud of my kids. They work really hard," Gile said. "They go above and beyond."
However, Oskaloosa won't be Kutcher's only stop in his home state this week.
On Saturday, he will be receiving the Robert D. Ray Pillar of Character Award for 2017 in West Des Moines. Watch live video of his award acceptance at DesMoinesRegister.com and on the Des Moines Register Facebook page.
The Robert D. and Billie Ray Center at Drake University recognized Kutcher for demonstrating “good character as a role model.”
The award is given each spring to a person who shows positive character and shows similar characteristics to former Iowa Gov. Robert Ray.
Dallas Clark, native Iowan and former Hawkeye and NFL football player, explains his idea for the Native Fund and the Back Porch Revival concert at Kinnick Stadium. Kelsey Kremer/The Register