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Speaking with our hands

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Speaking with our hands

Da'Nazjah Dorsey, Student Life Editor

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Imagine walking into a classroom where everyone is actually interested in learning. Add some textbooks, a few elaborate hand gestures, and a teacher with a passion for the subject – we get the American Sign Language class.

ASL is a new World Language class that Creek is offering to students for whom in a lot of cases, Spanish, Latin, or French isn’t their usual cup of tea. “I’m not very good at spanish so I ended up dropping that class,” Junior Ethan Cavanaugh said, “but then ASL became available this year, so it’s just fortunate that I happened to get in,” says Cavanaugh who’s in ASL 2nd period.

Cavanaugh had previous knowledge of signing, having transferred from Mountain Vista High School, one of the few high schools that offers ASL as a class available to students for credit.

The class’s only teacher, Anne Zurcher, is someone with extensive background, passion, and motivation for the subject, even if this is her first year teaching ASL. “I taught deaf and hard of hearing children at elementary school, in Denver public schools,” she said.

On top of this being her first year teaching the subject, it’s also her first year at Creek, but she isn’t as new to the campus as one might think, “I have two daughters, one niece, and three nephews that also go here,” said Zurcher, who is also excited to be on the campus with family and friends.

“I have a friend that actually works here at Creek that found out about the ASL class that was going to be offered. She knew I had my masters, and she kind of informed me about the job and I went with it,” says Zurcher.

ASL started as one of the many clubs that Creek offered to students after school as just something that many used as a common space for sharing the knowledge or bonding with others that knew or wanted to know the language.

But this was changed by juniors Rachael Murphy and Megan Haith that started this mission in their freshman year.

“We sat across from each other and would sign to each other across the room, annoying everyone,” laughs Haith, “So one day I went up to her and I was like I was thinking about talking to the principle about starting a class and she was like ‘That’s crazy, so was I!’”

Rachael Murphy laughs, agreeing, “End of freshmen year we started to have meetings, beginning of sophomore year we continued to have meetings and it was mainly about like what was going to happen with the class and why we wanted to do this.”

They are both now in their final 2 years of high school and the club has officially been made as a world language credit class. But why is this silent class considered a foreign language if there’s no talking?

World Language Department Coordinator Jamie Hofmeister explained the ASL class. “It made sense to be housed in world language with other world languages because it is another world language. It also has its own culture, which is a big part of what we teach in our world lang. and ASL.” Hofmeister said. “It isn’t just a signed language, it has its own “english” and its own syntax. So we thought it would fit very well with the rest of our languages and our whole as a department.”

ASL is only one of many “dialects” all around the the world, and even in some cases, it can change depending on which state you live in,

“I learned to sign in Arizona and now that I’m in Colorado, I’ve had to take more sign language classes so it does vary a little bit,” Anne Zurcher said.

The addition of ASL to Creek is one that will hopefully be more promising in the future since not that many students knew of the change in this year’s options, but most are thankful and cheery of what most hope you take as an inspiring achievement to join the class.  

“I know I’m definitely excited to finesse the program and become more fluent in sign language,” Cavanaugh said. “It’s also a cool language to learn because not many other people know it besides the deaf community and part of the hearing community.”

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