By KARINA FLORES
Silence fills the classroom as speechless students use their hands to communicate in a new way.
American Sign Language was added to the school’s curriculum by the school’s administration, after approximately 25 percent of the student body petitioned to have the class added.
ASL gives students the opportunity to learn an alternative form of communication while earning a foreign language credit.
The ASL teacher, Monica Bourret, believes it is important for Boone students to have an ASL class because of the deaf community already here. Students in the class are already starting to communicate with their deaf peers.
“We learn a language that is not only good for communicating with people, but it also gives a sense of community with the deaf students,” junior Elisa Carrion said.
Under Florida law, the new class is an accredited foreign language elective that satisfies the requirement of at least two years of a foreign language needed to graduate high school.
Boone is one of the four schools in Orange County that has a Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing Program that offers services to meet the needs of students who experience hearing loss and, due to it, have an educational need.
Deaf students attend classes just as other students do. Interpreters are provided to help DHH and students and teachers to communicate. The deaf students on campus are excited to have their peers learning the language they use to communicate.
“They love it. They are happy they have more kids to talk to and more friends to make,” Bourret said.
Currently, Bourret teaches approximately 120 students in the three ASL classes available for students. Students enrolled in ASL learn phrases that allow them to apply it in their everyday lives. Introducing oneself, giving descriptions and making requests are among the lessons they learn. The students learn a history of ASL and receive an introduction into deaf culture. One student plans to carry on her knowledge of ASL after high school as a missionary overseas to help the deaf.
“I will use what I have learned when I travel to different places in the world and teach it to the hearing impaired and their families,” Carrion said.
Next year, Bourret hopes to have more students enroll in the class. With universities such as Florida State University, University of Central Florida and University of Florida accepting ASL as a foreign language credit and FSU even offer an ASL class to allow students to continue with their ASL studies.
“It’s fun, well that’s what [the students] tell me, and they actually get to use it on campus. Hopefully we will get sign language teachers out of this,” Bourret said.