School’s sign lan­guage ef­fort recog­nised


St Theresa’s School in Plim­mer­ton has won an award for pro­mot­ing New Zealand Sign Lan­guage, af­ter only in­clud­ing it in cur­ricu­lum at the be­gin­ning of this year.

A deaf pupil be­gan in the new en­trants class in term 1, and sign lan­guage is needed to com­mu­ni­cate with him.

The school re­ceived the New Zealand Sign Lan­guage in Schools award at the na­tional sign lan­guage awards on May 14.

The awards ac­knowl­edge the ef­forts of those com­mit­ted to the pro­mo­tion and progress of sign lan­guage and deaf cul­ture in New Zealand.

St Theresa’s deputy prin­ci­pal and new en­trant teacher Deb­o­rah Nor­ris said the school was not ex­pect­ing the award.

‘‘We were shocked be­cause we’ve only been do­ing it one term,’’ she said.

‘‘Some schools have been do­ing it for years.’’

The pupils had been re­ally en­thu­si­as­tic about learn­ing the lan­guage, she said.

Her class of 5-year-olds spent all day sign­ing, and have pre­sented a school as­sem­bly en­tirely in sign.

The school hosts a sign lan­guage club dur­ing Mon­day lunchtime which up to 40 chil­dren at­tend, she said.

‘‘The kids are giv­ing up their lunchtimes for it. It’s vol­un­tary, they don’t have to – but there’s a good num­ber who are re­ally com­mit­ted and come ev­ery week.

‘‘The goal is that when he [the deaf pupil] leaves school, the kids who have grown up with him will be com­pletely bilin­gual.’’

Pupil Pa­trick Rei­her, 5, said he en­joyed us­ing sign lan­guage.

‘‘It’s cool be­cause you can talk through win­dows. If some­one is far away you can still talk to them,’’ he said.

Teacher aide Vinny Thomp­son said more and more peo­ple were re­al­is­ing the im­por­tance of learn­ing sign lan­guage.

She be­lieved sign lan­guage would be­come an NCEAap­proved sub­ject, so the pupils could con­tinue to learn through­out their ed­u­ca­tion.

‘‘There are peo­ple who need it – they have to use it. It’s not a choice for them,’’ Thomp­son said.

‘‘If some­one in your fam­ily is deaf then you have to know sign to com­mu­ni­cate with them.’’

The St Theresa’s new en­trant class is proud to have won a New Zealand sign lan­guage in schools award.

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