SBHS community rallies around Principal Burke - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

SBHS community rallies around Principal Burke

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A music video created by South Burlington students is getting thousands of hits online.

It isn't the silly dancing or the happy song that is getting the attention; it's the reason behind the project. It was news that students say hit the community hard as their principal, Patrick Burke, was diagnosed with cancer. But rather than letting it get them down, they jumped into action to boost his spirits.

The camera weaves through the packed halls at South Burlington High School as about 1,000 students cheer and sing along.

But the fun YouTube video created by Rebel students and faculty has a serious back story.

"It was a moment of shock definitely for me. You just can't believe it… that something bad happening to such a good person. It doesn't seem real," said SBHS junior Liam Nerber.

Students Liam Nerber and Gabe Simpatico say finding out Principal Patrick Burke had cancer was hard to hear. He was diagnosed with a treatable form of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in March.

"Mr. Burke is not even like a principal, he is kind of like your buddy you see in the hallway. He is one of the most warmhearted people I have ever met," said SBHS senior Gabe Simpatico.

So the student body wanted to find a way to keep him clapping along with their own music video set to the Pharrell Song "Happy."

"Just a very positive message to Mr. Burke. It didn't even matter about the publicity or how many hits it got on YouTube. Just so Mr. Burke could see the video and just so he could get a warm feeling of support from our school; that was our only goal we had with the video," Simpatico said.

The idea came from a teacher, and a group of students took on the challenge, nailing it on just their second take.

More than 5,000 people had watched the video online by Tuesday night, including its biggest fan, Principal Burke, who says: "As I watch (and watch again) what makes me smile (and cry) the most is seeing so many of you dancing, goofing around and well… just being happy. "

And the students say they aren't stopping at the video to make sure Burke knows they are with him every step of the way.

"This is a new campaign that both Rebel hockey teams are starting-- it's Bald for Burke. These T-shirts run for $10 apiece," said Simpatico.

The shirts are designed to help the community show their support and the money will go toward a cancer charity.

"I am honestly blown away by yet another example of kindness by the SBHS community," said Burke.

During his long journey ahead, Burke's students will be dancing and clapping, doing their best to keep him happy. The students say in addition to the T-shirts, a group will be shaving their heads next week to support Burke as he goes through his chemotherapy treatment.

Click here to watch the video on YouTube.

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