Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates made a surprise visit to the Howard School Thursday in Chattanooga.

Gates and his wife, Melinda's foundation has several philanthropic missions, which include enhancing education, eradicating malaria and polio and improving nutrition for children.

Gates' appearance was kept under wraps with only a handful of school leaders, Public Education Foundation employees, and elected officials aware of the visit for the last day of school at Howard. His security detail was described as "presidential visit caliber" by one onlooker.

Even though it was Gates' first visit to Chattanooga, he told the crowd he's visited Tennessee several times.

Gates congratulated the students on the successful year and encouraged the graduates as they head into the next chapter of their lives.

Dr. LeAndrea Ware, the Howard School's principal and Gates presented the school's Howard Resilience Award to a teacher Sean Brown and a student, Laila Smith.

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