Sign language classes prove popular
Bastrop High School junior Tyler Miller wasn’t looking for a possible career when deciding which foreign language course to take.
He was looking for an easy class and an easy A.
So he and a buddy signed up their freshman year to take American Sign Language.
For Miller, that decision has been life-changing.
“About halfway through that first semester my friend and I began to have fun (in the class),” Miller said.
Now a junior taking ASL 3, Miller said he’s interested in linguistics and wants to attend Texas State University, which has a good program, in the hopes of becoming an interpreter himself someday.
He’s one of about 175 students at Bastrop High School taking the language, one of the four foreign language courses offered by the Bastrop school district, along with Spanish, French and Latin.
The 2012-13 school year is ASL instructor Michelle de Leon’s third year teaching the language — one which has a unique grammar, syntax and sentence structure with its own idioms and colloquialisms — at Bastrop High School.
“It’s a beautiful language to watch,” de Leon said, noting that many students respond well to the physical movements and nonverbal nature of the language. “They enjoy it. It’s the expressions of the body and movements they enjoy. Almost all of my students love coming here and expressing themselves without putting pen to paper.”
For some students, like Erica James, ASL isn’t just a foreign language. As one of three deaf students at the high school, James doesn’t just take ASL, she lives it every day.
Taking and using ASL at the high school allows her to com- municate with more of her peers and make new friends, she said through an interpreter.
“I can have more friends,” she said. “I’m not alone.”
The district also offers the class at Cedar Creek High School, where Lacy Erskin teaches several class periods of ASL 1.
Student Kat Serna said she chose to take ASL for a very personal reason.
“My neighbor’s parents are deaf and until now we had to write notes to them to communicate,” she said. “So I thought I’ll learn so we don’t have to write notes anymore.”
Bastrop High School American Sign Language instructor Michelle de Leon leads the members of the school’s ASL club in a rehearsal of signing ‘We Wish You a Merry Christmas.’