Students of all abilities enjoy spring basketball tournament
Event at Burbank High School draws more than 150 athletes

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Arturo Santana (in green) keeps an eye on the ball.

Fern Bacon Middle School student Arturo Santana watched players trekking up and down the Luther Burbank High School basketball court and smiled.

A participant in a previous game, Santana was enjoying seeing others having as much fun shooting, passing and scoring in basketball as he did.

“I don’t know if you saw it, but I knocked down three shots,” Santana, 12, said at the conclusion of a round of play at SCUSD’s second annual Spring Inclusive Basketball Tournament on March 20. ”I’m an all-around player that goes with the flow of the game.”

Santana was one of about 150 students from around the district that participated in the Special Olympics-type event organized by district adaptive PE teachers to promote the importance of good health and having fun.

The players were assisted on the court by members of the Burbank Titans varsity mens and womens basketball teams, some of whom are students enrolled in Burbank’s innovative Peer Tutoring class, which pairs general education students with students who have special needs.

Senior David Straughter, captain of the varsity team, said he has become “good friends” with the student he assists through the Peer Tutoring class. “You learn that we’re all alike,” he said.

Teacher Greg Polo said some of the peer tutors remain friends with the students they assist even after graduation. “It’s good to see that these relationships last.”

Students came by bus from John F. Kennedy High School, Fern Bacon, Rosa Parks Middle School, Sacramento City College and Sacramento State to participate in the basketball tournament. The event featured various levels of game play, including wheelchair games.

A similar track and field event with Special Education and general education students was held in the fall. Students enjoyed both the competitive aspects of the event and the camaraderie.

Titan player Jalen Coates, a junior, said he volunteered to keep score at the tournament “because I think everyone deserves a chance to play.”