Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Explorer K-8 program teaches students American Sign Language

Fourth-graders Alyssa Burgess, from left, Makyah Haddon and Alyssa Melaccio advertise the American Sign Language Club in a Literacy Week parade at Explorer K-8 School. The club formed after several students asked to learn to sign.

Paulette Lash Ritchie | Special to the Times

Fourth-graders Alyssa Burgess, from left, Makyah Haddon and Alyssa Melaccio advertise the American Sign Language Club in a Literacy Week parade at Explorer K-8 School. The club formed after several students asked to learn to sign.

SPRING HILL — When Liz Sells has lunch with the club she advises at Explorer K-8 School, the students are very quiet. They can also have a little trouble eating. That's because they are talking with their hands.

Sells is an interpreter with the school's deaf and hard-of-hearing program, and the students with whom she sometimes lunches are members of her American Sign Language Club. The group formed in November with about eight students and now has about 20.

"As an interpreter, I had so many students coming up to me saying, 'I want to learn sign language,' " Sells said. "The reason they wanted to learn sign language was to talk to Luca-Bella Bonanno-White."

Sells is Luca-Bella's interpreter. Luca-Bella is a deaf fourth-grader and a classmate of some of the club's members. She has been a classmate of some of the students since first grade.

Sells began the club simply enough.

"I started with the alphabet," she said. "But one of the first things they learned was the Pledge of Allegiance. Several of them mastered it."

For Dr. Seuss' birthday, the students learned a line from his book Oh, The Places You'll Go.

"What we do at meetings, when there's a holiday coming we learn a song," said fourth-grader Meryah Delaine, 9.

At Christmas, those were Here Comes Santa Claus and Santa Claus Is Coming to Town. At Thanksgiving, the students learned how to say "pass the gravy."

"We're also going to perform at the spring concert," Sells said. "We're going to perform with the middle school chorus."

The silent lunches are a favorite of the group and are usually once a week.

"We're trying to do it every Wednesday," said fourth-grader Eliza Holmes, 11. "It doesn't always happen, though."

When they do happen, "You're not allowed to talk, and you have to sign what you're saying," said fourth-grader Daelyn Kimble, 9.

"It's impossible to eat," said Kaeli Gaquer, 9, "because you have to eat and talk and pick up your food with a fork."

"They do very well," Sells said. "I thought they'd last 10 minutes, but the entire lunch they were quiet."

Fourth-grader Destiny Sellers, 9, said the silent lunches are good practice so that the words come automatically.

Besides the alphabet, songs, words and phrases, the students learn other lessons during their meetings.

"We usually learn some sign language," said Jada Martinez, 9. "Last week we learned about the deaf culture."

The club includes third- and fourth-graders now, but is open to every grade level. Members recently put up posters advertising the organization, wanting to spread this useful skill.

"It's like talking in another language," Taylor Gilpin said.

Explorer K-8 program teaches students American Sign Language 02/27/14 [Last modified: Friday, February 28, 2014 11:40am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Pasco delays Irma food distribution after problems elsewhere

    Local Government

    DADE CITY — Pasco County has pulled the plug on a planned Food for Florida distribution at the Land O'Lakes Recreation Center that had been scheduled to open to the public on Sunday.

    Pasco County has postponed a planned Food for Florida distribution at the Land O' Lakes Recreation Center on Collier Parkway and is seeking an alternative site. Last week, commissioners said they feared a repeat of the long lines of traffic that appeared outside Plant City Stadium on Oct. 9. The nutrition program for people affected by Hurricane Irma had been scheduled to come to Land O' Lakes Oct. 18 to 27.  [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  2. Editorial: UF can set example for free speech

    Editorials

    White nationalist Richard Spencer is bringing his racist message Thursday to the University of Florida in a legitimate, if utterly repugnant, display of the First Amendment at work. As a public university, UF has little choice but to allow Spencer's speech to take place. Now the university and the broader community has …

    By responding with peaceful protests and refusing to be provoked into violence, UF and the Gainesville community can provide a powerful repudiation of Richard Spencer’s hateful message.
  3. Percussionist rocks out with a blazing triangle solo during Florida Orchestra performance

    Blogs

    Oh, the poor triangle. It's the orchestra equivalent of a rock band's tamborine, and such easy fodder for jokes.

    John Shaw performs a triangle solo.
  4. Amazon expands in Tampa with Pop-Up shop in International Plaza

    Retail

    TAMPA — A new retailer known largely for its online presence has popped up at International Plaza and Bay Street.

    Shoppers walk past the new Amazon kiosk Tuesday at the International Plaza in Tampa. The kiosk, which opened last month, offers shoppers an opportunity to touch and play with some of the products that Amazon offers.
[CHRIS URSO   |   Times]

  5. Andy Serkis' directing debut 'Breathe' is not so inspiring

    Movies

    After such a revolutionary acting career, Andy Serkis should be expected to make an equally inventive directing debut. Breathe is anything but that.

    Clare Foy and Andrew Garfield star in Breathe as Robin and Diana Cavendish, an English polio victim and his devoted wife, who pioneered disability rights and wheelchairs with ventilators. [Imaginarium]