On Friday, October 28, music was blasted, pizza was served, and students dressed in costume danced to the beat. No, this wasn’t homecoming, formal, or a student-run party; it was Burlingame University’s annual Halloween Dance.
Burlingame University is a program hosted at Burlingame High School that helps special education students who have graduated from high school learn the skills and information they need to flourish in adult society. The Burlingame University program, taught by Ms. Jenna Smith, helps its students find jobs, attend educational seminars, and also have fun. Having fun is a focal point of the program, and Burlingame University recently hosted a Halloween dance and will host sporting events and retreats for its member.
There are a variety of reasons why this year is a big one for Burlingame University. For one, BGU will see one of its first graduating classes, with a few students moving into the workplace.
Travis Mcnutt, for example, has already graduated the Burlingame University program and is working at the Home Depot.
When asked about how he felt receiving his first paycheck, Mcnutt said, “It was great! It makes me really happy, and I was able to buy Carolina Panthers gear.”
Mcnutt receiving his first paycheck has been an event that has inspired not only students in the BGU program, but other students as well.
“The most memorable experience was when Travis graduated the program and got a full-time job. This showed me that I was really making a difference and made Travis feel like he was a part of our community and that others cared about him and his success,” senior Jacob Cohen said.
In addition, Burlingame University has a lot more help this year, with more high school students volunteering to help with the program, than ever before. The Burlingame University Club, for example, is a club of about thirty BHS students who routinely plan events and volunteer at outings for the program.
BHS junior Justin Cilia has been a member of this club for two years.
“The reason I am so invested in this club is because of the kids. Both my classmates and the classmates of Burlingame University -- everyone is just so fun to be around. It's like another family when you’re a part of the club, and that's why I love it so much,” Cilia said.
BGU is always looking for more help from high school students.
“The club has provided a lot of enrichment for our students. They’ve run basketball, soccer, and it’s just been really fun, and they love [BHS students],” Smith said.
This year, Burlingame University plans on having a plethora of events that they invite general education students to come to and volunteer at. They recently had their Halloween Dance and plan on having three more dances this year. Additionally, the Burlingame University Club plans to host sporting events and retreats for the students in the program. And Burlingame University is also adding a talent show and a monthly activity called the BU Lounge.
“The BU Lounge is a combination of music and art and also a video game tournament” Ms. Smith said.
Evidently, there is a lot happening at Burlingame University this year. To make this all happen, Burlingame University needs your help. If you want to help out with the program, volunteer at a specific event, or just interact with the students, contact Ms. Smith through School Loop.