Sign Language Club holds trial meetings for next year


Bryana Ayala

Join Now Lenhart and Trexler show off their club advertisement on a TV. Students are welcome to join by using the code ty24kbp in Google classroom.

Bryana Ayala, Reporter

On March 21, the first Sign Language Club meeting was held. Since then, two other meetings have occurred where different topics were taught. 

Sophomore Lily Adams was one of the first students to go to Shelby Lenhart, the adviser of the club, in January. She went to Lenhart after finding out that she was a Speech Language Pathologist and has experience with some sign language. Adams thought knowing the language could potentially be very important and that students may have a need for knowing how to communicate with deaf people.

“I know a lot of people don’t know sign language, and I think it would be very useful to know. Also, later in life, you might meet a person who is deaf, and I just think the language is important to know,” Adams said.

Lenhart was ecstatic to hear that students were interested in the idea of a sign language club and started working on getting a club started. She got help from student counselor adviser Kimberly Shope to write a constitution then went to Principal Andrew Neely to ask about the club. Neely suggested that Lenhart hold a small trial for this year and continue based on the student involvement. 

“It was something that I thought would be fun to do, but I didn’t know if anyone would be interested. Then Lily appeared at my door and wanted to do it, so I was really excited,” Lenhart said.

Lenhart took Neely’s advice and made a trial that consisted of a total of four meetings. For the last three weeks on Mondays, members have been showing up to club meetings. On Monday, April 11,  the final meeting will take place in room B205.

In the first meeting, the club focused on finger spelling each letter of the alphabet. Students caught onto the hand gestures quickly to Lenhart’s delight. The club then played a few games that made members spell out different words in finger spelling. 

“I think it’s gone very well. I was really excited to have 15 people come to the first meeting, and I was really impressed with the students and how well they learned and how well they practiced with each other and gave each other feedback,” Lenhart said. 

The club has also worked on other subjects like colors, numbers, feelings and more. In order to make lessons and resources for members, Lenhart has been using websites like takelessons and a speech and language website called Boardmaker

“We’re really focusing on doing the basics. It’s not really that we’re teaching the full ASL, that’s a full language that would take a really long time, so I think that’s why we started with learning how to initially communicate and say I’m learning to sign,” student teacher Carissa Trexler said.

Lenhart is a speech language pathologist at the school and had some experience with sign language when in graduate school. She attended some classes about sign language and learned about deaf people and the culture of the community. Lenhart was interested in sign language and deaf education but realized that speech pathology was the better path for her.

Although Lenhart has an interest in the language, she hasn’t had much time to keep her knowledge of the language alive. She graduated in 1988 and hasn’t used much sign language since. But her daughter expressed wanting to learn sign language which has made Lenhart a bit more involved with the language. 

Trexler has been helping Lenhart with the club as well. Trexler took a course at Penn State about sign language that lasted a total of 15 weeks. The course focused on basic introductions, culture and going to community events. Trexler isn’t fluent in the language, but she has picked up on some of the signs.

“I think learning it in the class is very slow, and you can take your time. Then wherever you go, it’s really like any language where we speak really fast, they just sign really fast. So it’s definitely different from knowing a bit of the language in comparison to being fluent,” Trexler said.

Lenhart is looking forward to keeping the club around. Her plans for the following year would be to have a four to five week period at the beginning and end of the year where there are meetings every week. Lenhart mentioned her future plans for the club such as reviewing signs and becoming a place for students to practice so they can get better and better. She mentioned having a silent dinner or going somewhere where the club only uses sign language. The idea of bringing visitors and even an interpreter to talk to the club has been brought up as well.

“I just hope the student interest does continue to grow. I want to be able to make this an official club and get approved by the school board so we can do different things next year,” Lenhart said.