Standing in the French Quarter surrounded by St. Catherine of Siena School dancers wearing "Gatorettes" uniforms, the 24-year-old pop star, a Louisiana native, talked on ABC's "Good Morning America" Tuesday of her recent "surprise" meeting with four students from Our Lady of Mount Carmel School of New Orleans.
Spears grew up not far from New Orleans in the town of Kentwood, and she has participated in fundraisers for victims of the hurricane.
On a recent morning, the girls sat down to breakfast with City Councilman Jay Batt, thinking they were there to discuss the effects of Katrina. Then Spears walked in, greeted with squeals.
"It was awesome. I will never forget it," said 14-year-old Lindsay Hernandez, who lived with 21 relatives and friends after her home was destroyed.
Spears took the girls shopping and to dine at one of Cajun chef Emeril Lagasse's restaurants for some Southern comfort food, including fried chicken and red beans and rice. There, the conversation turned from shopping to Katrina.
"We had to go to a shelter," said Auntrell Prosper, 17, who still has Beyonce posters on her bedroom walls in her devastated home. She now lives with her family in a trailer.
Spears gave the girls fleur-de-lis pins on blue ribbons. It was a surprise for the dance troupe from St. Catherine's, a school in suburban Metairie, as well as for the four New Orleans girls.
"It was an honor to be here with all of them," Spears said.