Student’s sign language video opposes bullying

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 Student’s sign language video opposes bullying Student’s sign language video opposes bullying

OCEAN CITY — Ocean City High School’s American Sign Language students are taking a “Stand for the Silent” against bullying.

They’ve created a video. So far, thousands have viewed it on YouTube.

At a Wednesday, May 28 meeting of the Ocean City Board of Education, Andersen and several of her American Sign Language students showcased the video. The message and quality seemed to amaze board members and the audience, a feeling that Superintendent Kathleen Taylor said seems to be shared by all who view it.

Taylor said the video has generated a lot of hits.  The students who created the video said they were pretty excited about the possibilities.

“Who knows where it will go, I can tell you it’s quite popular,” said ASL student Anna Elmer, adding that thanks to social media and other outlets, the video is now being shared all over the world.

There is a link on the Ocean City High School website, under “highlights.”

Each year, the ASL program presents a fundraising show under the direction of Amy Andersen, the school district’s sign language teacher.  The students plan to present their show of songs, skits and dance “ASL Takes a Stand” 7 p.m. Thursday, June 5 and Friday and 6 in the Hughes Performing Arts Center at the school, 501 Atlantic Ave. Tickets are $10.

“The students have chosen to use funds raised from ticket sales to bring presenters Kirk and Laura Smalley from the organization ‘Stand for the Silent’ to Ocean City High School,” said Taylor.  “Kirk and Laura lost their 11 year-old son Ty four years ago when he took his own life as a result of being bullied for two years.” 

Taylor said his parents speak with various school communities about bullying and the life-and-death consequences.

As part of our anti-bullying initiative, the organization “Stand for the Silent” offered a presentation on Thursday, May 29.  Country singer Morgan Frazier’s song “Hey Bully” is the signature song for Smalley’s Campaign - “Stand for the Silent.”  

“The video is a gift to the community,” Anderson said, adding that it was “a joy, and very exciting” to bring the anti-bullying message to the community.

“The reception to the video has been incredible,” she said. “We sent it to the Smalleys in Oklahoma, and Mr. Smalley said he was amazed, he was so touched by what our students have done.”

Taylor said a passionate group of ASL 2 students in Andersen’s first period class came up with the idea to create a music video of the “Hey Bully” song, translated into American Sign Language. 

Elmer, a junior at Ocean City High School, directed, filmed and edited the video, Taylor said, with the help of fellow students.

“Students used class time, lunch periods and after school to film various scenes for the video, not to mention the time it took on their own to learn to sign the ASL fluently,” she said.  “They are committed to getting this very important message out to everyone, including our schools for the deaf.”

The video’s fame has been linked to Frazier’s website, her record label Curb Record’s Facebook page, the Stand for the Silent website and official page as well as its twitter account.

Taylor called each of the students involved and highlighted their accomplishments.

Elmer is finishing her second year of ASL. 

“She will take ASL Independent Study next year in order to get a third year of the language in before college,” Taylor said.  Elmer visited Northeastern University’s ASL interpreting program where she hopes to pursue a degree. 

Carly Benson, Taylor said, has been accepted into the deaf education program at The College of New Jersey. 

“She reached out to the director of the program, emailed a video of herself and went above and beyond application requirements to pursue her dream,” Taylor said.

Laura Pomeroy was accepted into the deaf studies program at Towson University.

“She decided within the first month of ASL 1 last year this was her passion,” said Taylor.  ‘She has worked with our deaf children in Upper Township interpreting during cheerleading practices for a deaf kindergarten student who will one day join us at the high school.”

Jennifer Campbell was accepted into the ASL Interpreting program at Bloomsburg University. 

“She’s energetic, happy and enthusiastic on a daily basis,” said Taylor.  “Jennifer wasn’t sure what she wanted to do with her life until taking ASL, then she quickly discovered her passion and ran with it.”

Gloria Laboy was accepted into the ASL Interpreting program at Bloomsburg University. 

“She’s a beautiful signer, the kind of student who does double the required work for assignments,” Taylor said. “She did the ASL translation by herself this year for the song she is performing in next week’s ASL show.”

Cierra Granger was accepted into the ASL interpreting program at the University of Louisville.

“Cierra has been a natural from day one,” she said. “She is expressive and passionate when she signs.  Whenever our deaf community members see her performing, they immediately tell Mrs. Andersen that Cierra is a wonderful signer with outstanding skill and artistry.”

Emma Murphy, Taylor said, is following in the footsteps of her sister who also took two years of ASL. “Emma has participated in all of our performances, is dedicated and ready to learn every day,” Taylor said.   “She did an outstanding job while signing and acting for this video. Her efforts are very believable and realistic.”

Alexia French has been a committed ASL student who particularly loves projects and performances involving music translation, Taylor said. 

“She can sign the Pledge of Allegiance with passion,” Taylor said.  “She is one of the most artistic and expressive signers we have and her love of ASL is evident every day.”

Taylor encouraged the community to attend the show and see for themselves how dedicated and talented the ASL students are. 

Anderson said she was very proud of her students.

“I always say I have the best job in the building,” she said. “I work with passionate students who love what they do, signing.”

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