Color guard, band students learn ASL




While numerous students fill RHS’ Spanish and French classes for their secondary language education, a group of students from color guard and band have taken it upon themselves to broaden their language horizons just a little bit more, in the form of American Sign Language.

Unlike Roseville, Del Oro offers ASL classes as an option to its students. Current color guard instructor Ashley Wyman, who first started taking sign during her later years at Del Oro, is one example of the results one program can have. She initially began to use her sign language skills in an effort to avoid straining her voice while out on the field with color guard, but piqued several students’ interests – including junior Riley Pabor.

“She just practices whenever the other instructor is talking; just kind of signing a little,” Pabor said. “I was like ‘woah thats cool, can you teach me some of that?’ and so she started teaching me.”
Pabor works with Wyman and others, including senior Peyton Graves from band to teach each other ASL. The students have used apps and online dictionaries in order to increase their sign vocabulary.

According to Pabor, they often speak while they practice sign together. However, occasionally the group will communicate solely through sign, allowing the language to serve as entertainment.

“Me and my friends will just quote little inside jokes or Vines and stuff from each other across the room, in a quiet room,” Pabor said. “And we’ll try not to laugh really loud[ly].”

Though many have not conversed with someone who is deaf, their knowledge of sign has connected them to people in other ways.

“The most rewarding part is probably finding someone and connecting with them [which] you would not normally if you had not known sign,” Pabor said. “I remember I was at Olive Garden the other night and I was teaching my little sister something and a waitress walked by. She was like ‘oh’ and started signing to me and it was just really cool.”

The students hope to further their ASL education. For Peyton Graves, her goal in pursuing ASL is to eventually be able to converse with people through sign.

“I decided to start learning sign language because, if I do encounter anyone who is deaf, I would like to communicate with them,” Graves said. “And it’s fun just to sign in a different language – messes with people, too.”

While the students develop their skills outside of color guard, signing during practice gives them the added bonus of the help of the more proficient Wyman. According to Pabor, they occasionally sit in a circle or simply sign at each other during practice.

Wyman uses her knowledge to aid the students, as she knows from friends and personal experience the perks of learning sign. After struggling with an auditory processing disorder in addition to being a visual learner, she found sign language helped her understand others. She hopes the students take on knowledge of the deaf community as well as a new ability.

“I’m glad that they are learning it, because the deaf community is a beautiful community and everyone should be aware of its culture,” Wyman said.

While she will have opportunities to pursue sign in secondary education, Graves feels that sign language should receive more focus in high school because it allows people to communicate with an entire community of people that frequently go overlooked.

“I hope this school can get an ASL program going because I think it should be a tool that everyone should have to knock down that language barrier,” Graves said.