Dance Marathon 2018

Carrie Zhang, Reporter

Every other year, during the biannual Dance Marathon, the John Burroughs student body comes together to raise money for several organizations. In years past, the school has raised over ten thousand dollars for different charitable organizations, and this year, the goal remains the same.

After much debate, Congress decided the organizations our school would be fundraising in support of at Dance Marathon are Hope for Education and Leadership in Afghanistan (HELA)  and AIM High, one local and one abroad. Both organizations have strong ties to JBS  and are in need of assistance.

What do students at Burroughs do in the summer? A vacation with their friends and family? Summer camp? Hiking through mountains? Some students decide to volunteer at AIM High. Several schools in the St. Louis area, particularly Burroughs and Priory, host a five-week summer school camp for hundreds of driven students, most of whom come from challenging circumstances of environments, starting in middle school. Since AIM High is tuition-free for all students, the help from volunteers and donors is invaluable. Older students from schools such as Villa, Priory, and Burroughs work at various program sites as teaching aides or teaching assistants.

Alex Latuda ‘20, who volunteered as a teaching assistant last summer, described her experience as positive, not only for herself but for the kids there: “I think AIM High is important because it gives kids an opportunity to catch up or get ahead over the summer. The program helps them plan for college, takes them on field trips, lets them try new things through electives, and gives them role models.”

Every year, AIM High provides intelligent and promising students with an exceptional education. 90% of their participants graduated from high school, compared to 60% of their local peers. However, AIM High has to find a way to provide for school supplies, field trips, teachers, staff and more. The upcoming Dance Marathon will help raise money to donate to AIM High, so the organization can continue to foster talented students.

The fundraising focus extends from beyond just our city in to the global community. Plenty of students at Burroughs take part in Model UN and SLAMUN. When they reach their junior and senior years, students have the opportunity to participate in THIMUN, where the connection with HELA lies. Andrew Newman ‘87, who sponsors SLAMUN and THIMUN along with English teacher Shannon Koropchak, describes HELA as “a group of high school and college university level students actually all over Afghanistan now who come together to practice, promote leadership and Model United Nations skills.”

The organization has conferences that are focused on topics such as gender equity and women’s empowerment. Newman recounts, “[HELA’s] first conferences were specifically focused on the skills of the art of debate and of using their voices to discuss global issues… A lot of the girls, in particular, do not have a voice in their culture, and it’s provided them the platform to speak because many of them don’t want to be silenced.”

Now, HELA helps build leadership and business skills and is hoping to expand and have conferences internationally with new speakers. Mr. Newman says, “Our fundraising will go to helping them run their conferences. The money will go to them for new offices, because right now they are in an area that has been designated as unsafe… which is targeted by the Taliban often. They need to be able to transport all the female delegates to conferences and to workshops safely. They need to provide internet [access].”

When we attend Burroughs, we receive an exceptional education with access to numerous amounts of opportunities. Amy Phillips ‘20 states that, “We’re able to attend a school that gives us tremendous opportunities to explore and grow as students for our future, and we can often take for granted these advantages that few other children our age can get.” Through fundraising for Dance Marathon on February 9, though, Burroughs can help to provide more opportunities for students within the St. Louis area and within the world.