Signing for Santa

Published 9:45 pm Wednesday, December 19, 2012

One could hear with ears and eyes the Christmas good tidings at Nansemond Parkway Elementary Wednesday.

It was one of four elementary schools to be treated this week to a special Christmas concert by American Sign Language students from Lakeland High School.

In Nansemond Parkway’s gym, nine juniors and seniors from Anita Fisher’s ASL class sang and signed favorite songs from “The Night Before Christmas.”

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“This is our 10th year doing this concert,” Fisher said. “I put out an email to all elementary (school) principals, and the fist four to contact me” are rewarded with performances.

After taking part in a special Christmas concert, Sarah Bowyer, an American Sign Language student from Lakeland High School, teaches Nansemond Parkway Elementary students to sign, “I wish you a Merry Christmas.”

The Lakeland students also performed at Booker T. Washington Wednesday, and will visit Northern Shores and Florence Bowser today.

Fisher said watching the eyes of kids in the audience is her favorite part of putting on the shows. “They just enjoy it so much,” she said.

All eyes were on the stage at Nansemond Parkway Wednesday as the older students, wearing pajamas, reindeer antlers — and one dressed as Santa — signed and sang songs like “Here Comes Santa Claus,” “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” and “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

It seemed that with each song, the Nansemond Parkway students were more and more emboldened to try their hands at signing.

But with the Rudolph song, the kids concentrated on using their voices to sing along.

One of the Lakeland students, Sarah Bowyer, a junior, said she enjoys teaching the younger children the power of signing.

Ashlin Dotson, a senior, said it was enjoyable to work with other students. “Some of them know signs, and you get to teach them what we have been learning for three or four years now,” she said.

Both were referring to the concert’s second act, as it were, when the Lakeland students and Fisher split the Nansemond Parkway students into groups and taught them to sign, “I wish you a merry Christmas.”

Fisher said that after previous concerts, elementary students have approached her at Walmart to sign the message of good tidings.

“This is the highlight of our fall,” she said, adding that the ASL students started work on the concert in the first week of October.