The Lightning Letter

The Student News Site of James Lawson High School


The Lightning Letter

The Lightning Letter

Staff Spotlight: Mrs. Burlingame


Michelle Burlingame is a teacher with a passion for dance and an admiration for her students. Burlingame, or “BG” as her students like to call her, was inspired by her childhood dance instructor, whom she had worked with since the age of six, to become a dance teacher.

“I always wanted to be just like her,” Burlingame said of her dance teacher.

Burlingame began teaching dance at 16 years old and enrolled in business classes during college in hopes of opening her dance studio. While doing so, she wasn’t enjoying her lessons.

“I decided what I liked about [dance] was teaching,” Burlingame said.

Burlingame has now been a teacher for 34 years. She teaches many forms of dance, including jazz, ballet, tap, modern/contemporary, and musical theater.

Moving to James Lawson has been a transition that involves many changes and new opportunities, one of them being our brand-new academic pathway.

The Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) allows students to submerge themselves in various art forms, including choir, jazz band, and theater, to name a few. VAPA allows students to take more courses aligned with their interests in fine arts.

“I’m excited. I’m hoping a lot more people can experience dance,” Burlingame said.

Not having a pathway in the arts has kept a lot of her dancers and students who are interested in dance from taking her class.

“I think it’s really important for dancers to take music and theater and for music students and theater students to take dance. I think it’s great that we will be able to cross over,” Burlingame said.

Burlingame’s dancers and the theater students are currently collaborating on SpongeBob: The Musical which will open on November 2nd. Tickets are on sale now.

“Mrs. Burlingame means a lot to me. I call her Mama B because she’s like a second mom,” said senior Taffy Thomas. Despite an option to move, Thomas chose to stay in Tennessee so she could take dance with Burlingame.

Thomas said that she is excited for this school year and is looking forward to her Senior Solo, a solo dance that the senior dance students get to do during the recital. They get to choose the song and create their own choreography. Thomas said she will be taking dance in college.

This year’s dance recital will take place on November 30th and December 1st. This winter’s theme is “water.”

“It is really special to be in the winter dance show because I was in dance last year, and theater did some things with dance before, so I’ve been around the previous winter and dance shows, but I’ve never actually been a part of it. Especially since it’s my last year here it’s really cool to be a part of it,” said senior Ellie Grenier.

The dancers will dance along to a variety of music from Justin Timberlake to Smetana, an influential Czech composer.

“As a dancer I am really excited about everything we’re doing cause it’s a lot of fun and it’s great to be working with everyone else in the different classes. I highly recommend joining dance. [It’s] very fun to do together and do performances,” said senior John Paul Ngyuen.

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About the Contributor
Carla Williams, Staff Writer
Carla Williams is a senior at James Lawson High. When she is not acting with the Lawson Theatre troupe, you can find her passionately writing dark fantasy stories or avidly reading fantasy novels and manga. This is Carla's first year at The Lightning Letter, and she is excited to learn about journalism and to present her short stories to the school community.
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