Burbank school officials, longtime residents, supporters, alumni and local business owners celebrated Burbank Unified's past and present Thursday morning at the Castaway restaurant during the Burbank Educational Foundation's first "State of the Schools" breakfast in more than a decade.
Comedian and radio talk-show host Tim Conway Jr. moderated the event in the Verdugo Room, where he talked about his desire to enroll his daughter in Burbank Unified's schools.
"Burbank, by far, in my opinion, had everything a school district needs," he said.
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Event organizers also recognized alumni who, since graduating, have won Olympic medals, become public servants or local business owners.
In addition, officials honored the district's longest-serving educator, Linda Walmsley, a Roosevelt Elementary kindergarten teacher, who began teaching in 1971, more than 45 years ago.
Also honored was Gloria Garcia, the district's longest-serving classified employee and budget technician. She has been working for the district for more than 43 years, beginning her career in 1973.
School officials shared photographs and videos of past and current students, touting accomplishments the district has made in academics, athletics, the arts and in supporting students' mental health and wellness.
A major highlight of the event was the announcement that the Burbank Educational Foundation has met a goal to raise $90,000 by collecting $1,000 donations from individual supporters, businesses and organizations.
Co-chaired by Michael Cusumano and Walmsley, the "90 for 90" campaign set out to raise funds for science, technology, engineering, art and math education for students in kindergarten through 12th grade.
Three student board members — Mathew Khalil from Burbank High, Sarah Faucheux from John Burroughs High, and Ian Scott from Monterey High — each gave a speech about how their Burbank education has affected them.
For Khalil, his time at Burbank High during the past four years has been filled with diversity and chances to succeed.
"The opportunity always knocked, and I opened," Khalil said.
Faucheux said her mother wanted to move to Burbank after losing their home to Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and then she researched which cities were the best places to raise children.
"We knew that we were going to get a great public education coming here," Faucheux said.
Scott shared his challenges in falling behind in his academics, leading him to transfer from Burroughs High to Monterey High, the district's continuation school.
Scott said he has thrived at Monterey. "Once you walk into that door, it's just an amazing school. Everybody's just so active and everybody knows everybody, and that's a great thing," Scott said. "You don't just walk in the halls and see random people every time at lunch. Everybody hangs out at lunch and everybody takes turns talking to each other."
Burbank Unified Supt. Matt Hill gave attendees "one charge" upon leaving the breakfast, asking them to find one new person to engage with the district.
"They can volunteer. They can mentor a child. Whatever their passion in their heart is calling them to do for our kids in this community, grab them," Hill said. "Bring them with you. You are the leaders in this community, and you can push us to become the best district in the entire country in this decade and the decades to come."
Kelly Corrigan, email@example.com
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