ASL claps to the rhythm

They live for the applause…

Out of the classroom and onto the stage, American Sign Language students have been hard at work preparing their annual showcase: Happenen’ Hands: the ASL Fall Show 2013. 

The presentation lent itself to the idea of pure entertainment … while the audience is subconsciously educated.  Twenty three songs housed a platform for students to translate spoken lyrics into American Sign Language.  The night even featured a skit (adding to the notion of playfully introducing Carlsbad’s campus to deaf culture).

“It takes us six weeks to prepare,” Director Mrs. Kelly Large said. “We raised funds to buy costumes, built props and rehearsed. The kids had to not only practice their songs but become accustomed to performing. Many of them have never been on stage before.”

Carlsbad’s Culture Arts Center opened its doors Nov. 20 and 21 –inviting all inside for this unique experience.

“The showcase helps open our school to the acceptance of students who are not able to speak,” Principal Dr. Matthew Steitz said. “ASL to me, is one of the more challenging opportunities offered. Students go into the program and are surprised by the difficulty of the language.”

The language may be no easy feat, but the show dazzled.

“All our hard work paid off,” junior Jackson Brians said. “We’ve been working for several weeks in class and at lunch. Tonight’s performance ran smoothly and it was so much fun on and off stage.”

Through student-choreographed dances and modern hits, the audience had a clear understanding behind the language.

“I am hoping that we, first of all, entertain and that we draw attention to the importance behind embracing deaf culture,” Director Large said. “ The ASL showcases are special and unique. It doesn’t matter what your clique is or what language you are taking, the performances make ASL accessible to anyone. We appreciate our audience members.”

As the Cultural Arts Center’s seats filled, it was clear that the gratitude is mutual. All tickets sold support the Deaf Education and Arts Foundation. “D.E.A.F.” sponsors senior scholarships for the deaf and hard of hearing students, who are continuing their American Sign Language studies in college.

“The ASL program deserves to be embraced by all,” Principal Steitz said. “Times are changing, to the point where we have a deaf student in ASB.”

Lesly Morelia was one of three special guests partaking in the show. Being a deaf student, her experience differed from others. While most people walked out to their cars and picked up a conversation after the curtain closed. For several kids like Morelia, ASL isn’t simply a class period (nor a performance they can walk away from). American Sign Language is a way of life: expression, emotion, and means of communication.

“I’ve been signing for as long as I could talk,” sophomore Kaitlyn Holley said. “It’s made me realize how grateful I am for the communication in my life. ASL gives me a humbling perspective on different cultures.”

ASL III and IV continue to wow the crowd. The American Sign Language students have one more curtain call before the year is over. Find these performers back in action for their Spring Showcase this March.