Long before American Idol came into Adam Lambert’s life, he was passionate about the choir, drama and photography classes he attended at Mount Carmel High School in San Diego.

“Not only was it a great chance for me to explore my great artistic, creative passions, but it also provided a wonderful social outlet for me,” he tells me. “I think those programs are really important for kids like me. Not everybody’s going to play football after school.”

These days, the Idol runner-up, 28, is channeling his fame for good by asking fans to support public school classroom projects focused on arts, music and drama through www.donorschoose.org/adamlambert.

“I have fans who are kind enough to spend money for me for gifts, and I started receiving gifts, and I was very flattered by that, but then I started thinking ‘you know what? I don’t need this stuff. I’m at a lucky place in my life where I’m fortunate enough to make a good living,’” he says. “I feel like this financial energy could be redirected for a better cause. I felt guilty for people spending money on me, and would rather these kids and these public schools benefit from it.”

He continues, “I don’t understand why arts are the first thing to go when they put so much money into things like sports. [laughs] It’s unfair. It’s an unbalanced situation. When I was in public school, luckily the budget was decent in the district that I was in. I had a great experience. I hear stories about kids in schools and teachers who aren’t able to give the kids that type of experience. I do think it’s important.”

The openly gay glam rocker tells me he wasn’t “out” during his high school years.

“I had a good time during high school,” he tells me. “I didn’t really have a strong identity. I didn’t date or anything. It wasn’t a time of romance or sexuality at all for me. That was not even existent in my high school experience. But I had a lot of friends, and I had a lot of fun.”

What advice does he have for kids as they return to school?

“Find a balance between what you have to do academically and what makes you happy,” he says. “That’s one of the reasons why I find it important to contribute money to these arts programs because it also keeps kids wanting to go to school in many cases. After your math and science class, history class, you might feel a little burnt out, and then you get to look forward to drama. Or choir. And it really keeps you charged and wanting to be there – wanting to be on campus and wanting to succeed. My message to kids is to find a balance between what you have to do in school, and what feeds your creative self.”

Here’s a photo of Adam and I during his visit to OK!’s office. See more photos of the stars in The Valerie Gallery.

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Help Adam help others by donating to arts programs at www.donorschoose.org/adamlambert. And, pick up the OK! on newsstands now for a Last Word interview with Adam. “Rob and Kristen: Engaged!” is the cover line.

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