By ROGER AMSDEN, LACONIA DAILY SUN
GILFORD — Imagine not being able to hear and having to ask for directions. Luckily, that was not a problem for Gilford High School student Clara Jude on a trip to the Perkins School for the Blind and Deaf.
Members of the American Sign Language Club at Gilford High School last week visited the school in Watertown, Massachusetts, a trip which club president Jude said was both inspiring and informative.
"When we arrived and were looking for the visitors office, I used sign language to ask directions and one of the students signed me right back and gave us directions. He actually thought I was deaf, too," said Jude.
She said that eight members of the club, which she helped form last year, and three adults who accompanied them, took a two-and-a-half hour tour of the school, which is famous worldwide as the institution where Helen Keller learned to communicate despite being blind as well as deaf.
"There were some interactive activities, like being blindfolded and having to relay on a partner for directions on where to walk and what objects and obstacles were ahead that were really interesting," Jude said.
She said that her interest in learning sign language started when she was a sixth-grader at Holy Trinity School in Laconia when she and her younger sister Lucy were looking for new challenges.
"We both were taking dance lessons and wanted something to do with movement. So we decided to learn sign language and got books for Christmas to help us learn," says Jude, who points out that sign language is the fourth most-used language in America.
When she started attending Gilford High School, she was disappointed that there was no American Sign Language club and took it on herself to organize one in her sophomore year. She said the plan was supported by school administrators and that the club, which usually meets twice a month, has now grown to about 15 students.
"We teach each other new words and phrases, and when there was an open mic night at the school's coffee house we even did a song and signed it to other students as we sang," she said.
Jude, who skipped her junior year and is now a senior at Gilford High, said she is confident that the club will continue at the school under the leadership of Kelli Vieten, a sophomore who became vice president of the club this year, as well as her sister, Lucy, who is now an eighth-grader at Gilford Middle School.
After she graduates in June, Jude will be taking a year to do community service before going to college and will be spending 24 weeks in Guatemala and another 24 weeks in Colombia over the next year.
And she knows what she wants to do for a future career. She's planning on becoming a sign language interpreter, which opens up worlds of possibilities for her.
Members of the American Sign Language Club at Gilford High School last week toured the Perkins School for the Blind and Deaf in Watertown, Mass. (Courtesy photo)
Gilford High School’s American Sign Language Club visited the Perkins School for the Blind and Deaf in Watertown, Mass., last week. Shown on the tour are students Kelli Vieten, Erin Gately, Erica Mosher, Emily Curtis, Sienna Remick, tour guides Linda Oleson and Mike Cataruzolo and students Clara Jude, Josey Curley and Olivia Salesky. (Courtesy photo)
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