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Keith Johnson, Deseret News
Actor/singer Jessica Simpson leaves Weber High School following an assembly featuring her today in Pleasant View.

PLEASANT VIEW, Weber County — Who says text messaging during school doesn't pay off?

For Weber High School students, more than a half-million text messages — some of them apparently sent during class last week — paid off with a celebrity visit by singer-actress Jessica Simpson on Monday.

Weber High students sent 571,795 text messages to defeat Fremont High with 324,633 and Lehi with 108,720 and win a KUBL radio contest and a visit from the superstar.

"It's a beautiful place," Simpson told the Deseret News about coming to Utah. "The sunset was amazing last night."

Dressed casually in jeans and a checked blouse, she spent 30 minutes visiting with student leaders before appearing at a special assembly in the school gymnasium.

Cheering at the assembly was so loud, it was oftentimes impossible to hear Simpson respond to questions from students.

"I have an amazing family and great friends," Simpson said about the keys to her success. She also said patience and belief in herself have helped.

Asked about benefits of her fame, she replied, "I don't have to wait at restaurants. That's a perk. They seat me immediately."

Another benefit, she said, is "being able to stand up there and sing my heart."

Several of the male students forgot to ask their questions after she surprised them with a physical response. "Let me give you a hug," she said to one young man, and another got a kiss on the cheek from Simpson. Both students walked away, blushing, to the cheers of classmates.

Simpson told students her mother was her greatest hero, that she wasn't all that popular at her own high school and that her recent songs just came out on a country music theme.

"I just wanted to be able to sit down in Nashville," she said.

Arthur Francis, student body vice president at Weber, said Simpson's visit made for a pretty hectic day, with a totally different school schedule.

"Everyone has been excited about Jessica coming," he said.

Later, Francis presented his own homemade music CD to Simpson. "You wrote me a song! That's so romantic," Simpson said in reply.

Steve Elsnab, Weber High principal, said Simpson's visit was all planned and carried out by students with little help

"The students really came together," he said. "We didn't do a thing. The kids came to us with the idea."

Elsnab said this is Weber High's homecoming week, so the visit fit in great. He believes many students will remember Simpson's visit more than anything else about homecoming 2008. "It's certainly been a fun thing."

Jared Windsor, a sophomore at Weber, said most students at the school were involved in the texting.

"Some of our teachers told us to text in class last week," he said.

When she learned about the large number of text messages sent to win her company, Simpson responded, "How do you do that?"

Josh Naylor was the Weber student who sent the most individual messages, with 23,000. He spent most of five days last week sending messages.

"I'm satisfied with the result," he said.

Kylie Spilker, another Weber student, sent 18,000 messages and was glad to have unlimited texting available.

"I'm a fan," she said. "Jessica is the prettiest person ever."

Weber's students also made sure they thought about the less fortunate during Simpson's visit. They got the superstar to autograph two pairs of shoes to be auctioned off later this year for the school's "Quarters and Cans" holiday fundraiser for the needy.

KUBL's morning DJs, "Johnson and Johnson," organized Simpson's visit and the texting contest and were at the school assembly. Simpson came to Utah to promote her new country single, "Come on Over," and agreed to let the DJs give her away to a school.

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