East, West ASL Programs Make Strong Statement

East, West ASL Programs Make Strong Statement at Center Court
Posted on 02/28/2019
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asl halftime collageThe scene at center court before the East vs. West boys basketball game on Feb. 8 was something American Sign Language teachers Katie Nicol and Jessica Frye had only imagined. But it wasn’t until West junior Lauren Petersen approached them with the same vision that it actually became a reality.


Accompanying three West choir students who sang the National Anthem was 50-plus East and West ASL students - of all different levels - signing the song lyrics. Besides being a direct representation of the cross-district unity wrapped up in “WE are Lakota”, it also made quite a statement to everyone present in the stands that night.


“There was a huge applause at the end,” recalled Petersen. “I had no idea that it wasn’t something many people have probably witnessed.”


Frye mentioned that the idea was inspired by the tradition of the ASL III students signing the National Anthem each year at West’s Volley for the Cure event. The ASL teachers at both high school campuses all jumped at the opportunity to make such an experience available to their students at all levels of the ASL program.


Petersen took the lead on organizing the many practices that happened both during extra help bell and after school leading up to the center court performance. “There’s not a sign for every single word, so some of it is left up to interpretation,” said Petersen, who also took it upon herself to create videos and study guides to help her peers learn consistent signs.


“She worked really hard to make this happen and I am so proud of the passion with which she brought other students along,” Frye said.