IMG_0764 (1)

Introduction to the American Sign Language course

Walnut High School will introduce the American Sign Language 1 course to its language program for the 2016 to 2017 school year.

In the curriculum, students will learn to communicate using the basics of sign language such as the alphabet and common phrases. The class will be offered to interested students from all grade levels.

“We’re adding it because it’s a very popular class, and a lot of kids have always been interested in it. It’s another way of reaching [out to] the students and trying to add variation to our world languages program,” Grade Level Coordinator Jennifer Tucker said. “We’re broadening our horizons in that area.”

The Regional Occupational Program (ROP) will sponsor the introduction of the course and assign a teacher to instruct the class while the school provides a classroom.

“We’ve actually been trying to get [the class] for a couple of years and had to make that connection with ROP to see if [implementing the course] would work in our school,” Tucker said. “We talked to ROP early enough, and it just kind of all came together.”

The course will open up new career opportunities for students who are interested in pursuing a profession involving translating for others in the future.

“Back in middle school, there were some kids [who couldn’t talk], but they were able to use sign language. For one assignment that our class had, I was partnered with them, and I didn’t really know how to talk to them. We communicated a little bit but just with gestures. If I were able to use sign language [at the time], that would’ve been great,” junior Daniel Cuadro said. “Ever since then, I just really wanted to learn it.”

After completing the class, students have the option to become certified sign language interpreters by continuing their studies at Mt. SAC and earning their credentials.

“In the future, I think [learning sign language] can help. Let’s say I encounter some people who are mute and can’t talk. Most people who are mute know how to use sign language, and if I need to help them in some way, I want to be able to help that person,” Cuadra said.

The administration is looking to further develop the sign language course and add different levels in the future.

“I just think American Sign Language opens up a whole world for people, so to speak, especially if they are interested in going into that field of being a sign language interpreter,” Tucker said. “I’m viewing [this implementation] as something new in our school, and I think it’s always a good thing to refresh, update and add new things to see how it works.”

By Jessica Huang, Staff writer
Photo by Elaine Liu