Showing a sign

Published 10:18 pm Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Signing: A Lakeland High School student and American Sign Language Club member teaches signs to Driver Elementary School students on Tuesday.

By Heather McGinley

Staff Writer

Twenty hours of practicing all came down to four events. Lakeland High School’s American Sign Language Club performed a sign language Christmas program for Mack Ben Elementary School and Driver Elementary School yesterday and will be performing for two other elementary schools today.

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Led by American Sign Language teacher Anita Fisher, the club has been practicing every week, after school, since the beginning of October to perfect the hand gestures. Members increased their practices from once a week to twice a week in November.

Both the teacher and her students hope to educate the public with their presentations.

“We are getting people to realize that deaf people are the same as us,” Fisher said, “We want to get ASL out there and get people to realize that it is not just beautiful hand movements, but it is also a language.”

“We want to educate the little ones, so they know what’s going on,” said Sara Stinard, club member and ASL II student.

The group signed Christmas favorites set to music in Driver Tuesday afternoon. The students watching showed their appreciation for program by dancing in their seats and mimicking the signs.

At the end of the performance, club members told the younger students their individual reasons for studying sign language and being part of the club. The older students explained that deaf people are just like anyone else, except for the fact that they can’t hear.

Then Fisher and her students came into the audience to teach the students signs.

The club has been hosting a similar, but slightly different, program for the last few years. Two years ago, the club performed a play at King’s Fork Middle School, and members look forward to expanding their repertoire by hosting another play in the spring.

“They really get into it,” club member and ASL II student Melinda Eckmann said of Tuesday’s audience. “They like it, and they love to sway with us.”

“I like to perform. It’s cool,” added Chris Whiting, club member and ASL I student. “The kids are quick learners. They even pick up what we are signing up here.”

Club members said that Fisher has been an inspiration to them.

“I’d like to be like Ms. Fisher,” ASL I student Tavon Walker said.

“We don’t know what we’d do without her,” said Karley Barnes, who studies ASL III. She added that she hopes there will be opportunities for her to continue her sign language studies beyond her current level.