San Jose teacher organizing Halloween dance for special needs students

Lauren Martinez Image
Tuesday, October 24, 2023
SJ teacher organizing Halloween dance for special needs students
One San Jose teacher is organizing the second annual Halloween dance party for special needs students in the district.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- One South Bay teacher is making sure all students get to have a fun and inclusive Halloween.

Special education teacher Rolly Vital has eight students in his class at LeyVa Middle School in San Jose.

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Last year, Vital had the idea to organize a Halloween dance specifically for special needs students.

And it's becoming a tradition.

"You know, we don't usually go to the regular school dances and I said hey, I want to showcase and really highlight students in special education and I thought, hey, my students they want to go to the dance so lets have a dance," Vital said.

Vital is an advocate for his students.

"I know we're in special education but all we want to do is be treated fairly. So a lot of times I always say hey - we can do anything that general education students can do, all I ask is that you give us an opportunity and all we're going to adapt and modify to meet the students needs," Vital said.

Last year, six classrooms attended from the Evergreen School District.

Parent Rebecca Delgado said the dance created an inclusive environment for her son Daniel.

"It's nice because he feels like his peers, you know, they don't feel isolated - they feel like you know part of the students," Delgado said.

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Shelly Jimenez says that despite her terminally ill son Christopher's condition getting worse, she had to continue a tradition of putting up one of the most beloved haunted Halloween displays in the South Bay for him.

Delgado said it's a great feeling to know her son can be himself.

"It's very hard you know, because the things we go through on a daily bases the other children don't have to deal with," Delgado said.

This year, Vital is going bigger and better.

The district is allowing him to organize a second Halloween dance for special education students. Similar to last year, it's funded by parent donations.

"Without them, there's no dance. So you know it's from the Halloween decorations to the food, to the drinks, to the prizes, we even have a photo booth, we have a DJ and even the buses that are picking up the students from their schools - we have to pay for that," Vital said.

Vital has created a GoFundMe.

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So far, word of the party has spread fast, and 19 classes have RSVP'd to go; four of them are from outside the district. The students range from preschoolers to high school.

"You know, we want to experience everything that any other student experiences. Although we don't go to every single school dance. This is just for us," Vital said.

The dance will be held during school hours on Halloween.

Superintendent Antoine Hawkins thinks it's a phenomenal event.

"Students with special needs or have special needs - it's so important for them to have normalcy in their lives. So what I think about it is - I am so excited that we have a teacher who's taken the lead. Who is going to look at ensuring our students have a phenomenal time just as everyone else at the school," Hawkins said.

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