After almost a 100 years of educating students, Shelbyville Central High School has introduced its first Sign Language Club, dedicated to helping students learn despite any hearing disability they might have. Wanda Sawyers is the founder and supervisor of SLC. As a child of a deaf adult (sometimes referred to in the non-hearing community as a CODA), she was born into a completely deaf family. She has been using sign language to communicate for around 25 years. She began the SLC here and works with over 20 students. Throughout her life, she has helped many people by translating for them and helping them communicate with the deaf.
Right now, Sawyers is working with a student by attending all of his classes with him and translating the lectures for him. She is also helping the students who have joined SLC learn sign language so they may expand their limits and overcome any speech difficulties they may face. They have learned the basics --the alphabet, numbers, everyday words, and sentences. These meetings are every Thursday from 3-5 p.m. and last about an hour.
Sawyer has always enjoyed working with the hearing impaired, as well as children. Since she began this club, she has the best of both worlds, which is something she feels is unbelievably awesome. Signing is a language at which she is a natural.
"Sometimes being a CODA was hard for me growing up, but now when I look back I loved it so much I would never trade it for the world. I get told all the time that sign language is so beautiful. So I am glad I can do it and also now teach others to do the same. I think it is very important for the people to know because the deaf population is very large and growing by the day."
For any SCHS student interested in being a part of this club, it's not too late. Even this late in the school year Sawyers is willing to accept new members. You may be very behind, but it's never too late to try. So come on over this Thursday at 3 p.m. and see what it's all about. You may just be amazed at how interesting it comes to be, I know I was.
-- Anna Navarrette is a Senior at Shelbyville Central High School. Student columns will appear each Wednesday in the Times-Gazette.