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When A Super Bowl Party Is More Than A Gathering — It’s A Lesson02:23
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Haley Valente, left, and Sophie Brown wrap miniature hot dogs with crescent dough to make pigs in a blanket for their Super Bowl watch party organized by the students of the College Success program at the Perkins School for the Blind. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Haley Valente, left, and Sophie Brown wrap miniature hot dogs with crescent dough to make pigs in a blanket for their Super Bowl watch party organized by the students of the College Success program at the Perkins School for the Blind. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

An estimated 100 million people tuned into the Super Bowl on Sunday night. Among them, was a group of eight students at the Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown. The annual event provided the kids with an opportunity to put several of their independent living skills to the test.

"From the outside world it might look like you’re hosting a Super Bowl party," says Perkins' orientation and mobility specialist HuyenTran Vo. "But there’s a lot of skills that are involved in that, like learning how to cook and clean."

Maddy Baldwin uses a hand mixer to mix brownie dough as fellow student Sofia Causa Dumay assists. They are making brownies for the Super Bowl watch party. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Maddy Baldwin uses a hand mixer to mix brownie dough as fellow student Sofia Causa Dumay assists. They are making brownies for the Super Bowl watch party. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Haley Valente makes quick work of her brownie-making duties. After her classmate pours the mix into a baking dish, Valente deftly navigates the oven and sets it to 350 degrees.

The kitchen in this Perkins School for the Blind dormitory is a busy place. In addition to all the cutting, mixing and baking the students and support staff are doing, they're also calling out to each other when someone is balancing a bowl of salsa on the way to the fridge or moving food in and out of the oven.

That’s because they all have a visual impairment. And some, like Haley Valente, are blind.

Haley Valente places the pan of chicken wings into the oven. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Haley Valente places the pan of chicken wings into the oven. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Taylar Bogdanovic cooks ground beef on the stovetop for English muffin pizzas. The kitchen is bustling with activity. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Taylar Bogdanovic cooks ground beef on the stovetop for English muffin pizzas. The kitchen is bustling with activity. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

On the menu are all the usual football party fixings: hot wings, mozzarella sticks and pigs in a blanket.

"It’s my first time planning any party of any kind," says Jordan Scheffer, a student in the College Success-Perkins gap year program. "So it’s all new and weird."

Scheffer is one of the students in charge of planning this party. She's overseen everything from menu planning to invitations. Scheffer says heading up an event like this is out of her comfort zone. But she was glad she could continue what has become a family tradition while she's away from home.

"I usually watch the Super Bowl with my family," she explains. "Even though I’m not usually someone that’s extremely into sports."

Under the watchful eye of College Success resident staff worker Brandi Cooley, right, student Jordan Scheffer carefully cuts a lime in half to use the juice in the pico de gallo she is making for their Super Bowl watch party. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Under the watchful eye of College Success resident staff worker Brandi Cooley, right, student Jordan Scheffer carefully cuts a lime in half to use the juice in the pico de gallo she is making for their Super Bowl watch party. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Jordan Scheffer arranges chicken wings on a sheet pan for the Super Bowl watch party. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Jordan Scheffer arranges chicken wings on a sheet pan for the Super Bowl watch party. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Jordan Scheffer brings the finished buffalo wings into the living room where the students will serve the food and watch the game. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Jordan Scheffer brings the finished buffalo wings into the living room where the students will serve the food and watch the game. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Most of Scheffer's classmates are also not big sports fans. But they all see this party as an opportunity to try their hand at more complex skills.

"This is a bigger task, because it’s not just learning how to cook for yourself, but learning how to cook for a party, how to store leftovers and reflect on how it all went afterwards, too," explained Vo.

As the TV announcers wrapped up their pre-game analysis, the students put the finishing touches on their game day spread.

And just like any good hosts, they were relieved. All of the food was hot and good and on the table just before kickoff.

Haley Valente feels for a spot to place the iced tea being served at the party. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Haley Valente feels for a spot to place the iced tea being served at the party. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Everyone begins to dig into the food they prepared before the game begins. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Everyone begins to dig into the food they prepared before the game begins. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

This segment aired on February 4, 2019.

Carrie Jung Twitter Reporter, Edify
Carrie is a senior education reporter with Edify.

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