CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Students at Garinger High School got a surprise in east Charlotte on Friday.

Carolina Panthers' star receiver Greg Olsen surprised the 9th-grade class ahead of the all-important EOC (end of course) testing next week.

"Whether you like it or not, you still have to do it," Olsen told the crowd.

His message was like his approach to the game of football: Give it your all and surround yourself with people who make you better.

"At the end of the day, kids want to do well. Kids want to be loved. Kids want to be told that they're good enough, but they also want to be challenged. They want to be held accountable," said Olsen.

The Garinger Wildcats have reason to celebrate. Officials at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools said they were in the top 5 percent of schools for overall growth on state-wide testing last year. CMS hoped this year will be better. That's part of the reason Olsen stopped by.

"I've been very fortunate to have that support system. These kids obviously have a great support system here at this school, and they are very lucky, and I hope they understand how lucky they are to have these people who care," Olsen said.

The students took the message to heart.

"I think he's right on that. If you want positive things to come to you, you have to have positive things going out to the world. So in order to do that, you have to have positive people around you," said student Sierra Payler.