Today, December 14th, the BRIDGES class held their annual Holiday Party. The event took place at Chili’s, and was an exciting, fun filled lunch. The HDS Foundation had been so excited to join and was thrilled when the day finally came. Everyone met at Chili’s at 11:30 am, and were surprised to see two Cypress Bay alumni, Kate and Miguel. The students and especially Ms. Mansollilo and Ms. Gard were so happy to see their old students. The Holiday Party brought about great conversation with students, alumni, teachers, and the HDS Foundation members who attended. The students were able to work on and show off their social skills as well as their table skills, from ordering to paying with tip.

One of the highlights of the holiday party every year is the gift exchange. The students participated in a Secret Santa gift exchange, where each student draws another’s name from a hat. Students then learn as much as they can about the person they drew, and aim to get them a thoughtful and fun gift under the gift limit. The students all opened their gifts together, and everyone had big smiles as they opened their gifts, thanking their Secret Santa for what they had received. As tempting as it was to open the gifts and play with them right then, it was time for some lunch.

The waiters came to the table and took everyone’s order, and the students were all looking forward to the dishes they had selected. While waiting for the food, talk revolved around the gifts they had received, holiday plans, and their incoming food. The food arrived and talk stopped as everyone enjoyed the meal and thanked the waiters for bringing it. It turned out being a fantastic lunch.

After lunch, the students received another surprise. Kate, HDS Foundation’s Junior Board Member and BRIDGES alumni, presented the students each with a $25 gift card from the HDS Foundation in celebration of the holidays. The students were incredibly thankful towards the HDS Foundation both for the gift and for their hospitality, and incredibly happy about their gifts and the day. Kate was then asked to come in the new year and speak to the students about her journey after Cypress Bay. Delighted, she accepted and looks forward to the incredible opportunity.

The holiday banquet had come to an end, but spirits were still high. The students payed for their meal and tipped the waiters, thanking them for their work. Thanking HDS Foundation staff again for the hospitality and kindness, the students headed back to school for another exciting day.

The HDS Foundation would like to thank the BRIDGES teachers and students for hosting a wonderful Holiday Party, and to Chili’s for holding the event. Happy Holidays to everyone on behalf of the HDS Foundation, and to a wonderful New Year!