On Sunday, Highland Square Theatre rolled out the blue carpet for a VIP family event.

Between I Promise students and their families, nearly 300 people showed up to the LeBron James Family Foundation’s annual “VIP Movie Magic” fifth-grade experience outing for a special showing of Peter Rabbit at the theater Sunday afternoon.

The showing was an exclusive treat for kids and families in the foundation’s I Promise program, which provides extra resources to at-risk Akron Public School students. The program, now in 46 district schools, is consolidating into its own school, called the I Promise School, set to open this fall.

Every month throughout the school year, each class of I Promise students gets to go on a unique outing to expose them to opportunities and experiences throughout the region.

For the past five years, the fifth-graders have experienced “movie magic” — a nod to LeBron’s love for movies and his media company SpringHill Entertainment, said Nicole Hassan, the instructional liaison between the foundation and Akron Public Schools.

About 15 volunteers from Chase Bank, along with people from Power Media, Buckeye State Entertainment, the foundation and the theater, came together to make the magic happen.

The theater marquee, a blue carpet and colorful signs that said “Mr. LeBron Presents Peter Rabbit” greeted families before they even entered the theater. Inside, the one-room theater was abuzz with kiddos running around, spilling popcorn, chomping on candy and dancing to tunes from a DJ.

Julius Simon, 10, joined a crowd onstage before the movie started to show off his dance moves.

“I think that they’re really fun,” Julius said about the foundation outings. “I really like that LeBron does this with us.”

The experiences aren’t just for fun, though, but also for learning.

Hassan has been working on lessons that will incorporate the experience into learning when kids return to school on Monday. Those could include anything from lessons on vocabulary and story themes in language arts classes to lessons on light and sound — both used in movie production — in science classes.

“[Hassan] has been working really hard to connect our outings back to instruction,” said Keith Liechty, the family liaison for the foundation and Akron schools. “It’s a perfect fit for LeBron’s interests. Hopefully it inspires our kids, too.”

Before having the kids recite their promise and starting the movie, Konstantine Howley, a foundation team member, took to the stage to introduce the purpose of the outing and let kids know that there are hundreds of jobs related to making movies.

“We want you to understand that this could be a career for you … None of this is out of reach for you,” Howley said. “Just think about that when the movie’s going on, and know that the sky is the limit.”

Theresa Cottom can be reached at 330-996-3216 or tcottom@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow her on Twitter @Theresa_Cottom.