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Jennifer Hudson and the Sandy Hook Elementary School choir sing 'America The Beautiful' prior to Super Bowl XLVII. / Richard Mackson, USA TODAY Sports

NEW ORLEANS ?? The chorus director shook her hands emphatically in one final moment of encouragement. As the children took their places, she reminded them to smile.

They didn't need that reminder.

Twenty-six students from Sandy Hook Elementary School got the Super Bowl XLVII pregame show off to an emotional start, as they joined recording artist Jennifer Hudson in singing America the Beautiful at midfield of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome Sunday.

The students, whose community of Newtown, Conn. was rocked by tragedy after the mass shooting at their school in December, were all smiles on this day. They happily skipped their way from the end-zone tunnel to the sideline, where they high-fived one another and their backpack-wielding parents while they waited for their moment.

"We have come to New Orleans to represent the Sandy Hook Family and the community of Newtown, Connecticut," the students said in a statement. "Our wish is to demonstrate to America and the world that, 'We are Sandy Hook and We Choose Love.'"

They danced to the Southern University band performing right before them and waived to the majorettes as they jogged past the children on their way off the field. They posed for pictures with their parents, they shook hands with one of the game officials. They stuck their fingers in their ears as the crowd roared for both teams' entrances.

Finally, they made their way onto the podium in the shape of the NFL logo at midfield and struck the first notes of a perfect rendition of the song. Fans waved and wiped their eyes as the students sang the first verse unaccompanied. They swayed when Hudson, wearing a ribbon in honor of the victims, joined them.

When it was over, they walked back near the sideline, where they watched Alicia Keys' rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner before making their way back to that tunnel behind the end zone.

Smiling, waiving and skipping the whole time, of course.



Copyright 2014 USATODAY.com

Read the original story: Sandy Hook's emotional start to the Super Bowl

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