ASL Club opens to teach and connect students


Ore James

Senior Emma Sawyer started an ASL club this school year

Isabelle Keever, Print Editor-in-Chief

Inclusion and community are two things the wildcat country strives for, and the same goes for senior Emma Sawyer. In an effort to create an environment that harvests learning and exposure to new cultures, Sawyer started an American Sign Language club this year. 

“I’ve always wanted to be fluent in ASL since it is thoughtful to some of our friends who have a hearing disability and don’t have many people who can communicate with them,” Sawyer said. “I’ve always wanted to be one of the people who could.”

She started self-studying about a year ago, and felt working with others was an ideal way to expose more people to the language. 

“That was kind of the inspiration for this club,” Sawyer said. “I have an interest and I feel like other people have an interest, and it would be so much more effective and efficient if we learn together.”

Another inspiration for Sawyer was Camp Blessing, a Christian summer camp that allows kids with special needs to feel love and acceptance from others. She has participated in the camp since before her freshman year. 

“If I had a camper that spoke ASL I would want to talk to them,” Sawyer said. “After my junior year I really found a passion for Camp Blessing. This year I went for 3 weeks as a one-on-one buddy.”

The language is so beautiful and those who speak it have such a passion about life.”

— Assistant Principal Natalie Priwer

Despite the initial struggle she faced in trying to find a sponsor, Sawyer now has three faculty members interested in assisting the club. 

“It was a lot of putting myself out there, asking around and getting rejected, but it worked out,” Sawyer said. 

One of the sponsors, assistant principal Natalie Priwer, is excited to be a part of the ASL Club since she knows the language. 

“Throughout the years I taught myself,” Priwer said. “I am working towards getting an interpreting degree.”

She was first exposed to ASL through a friend, and took four courses in the language. 

“I had a friend in high school who was deaf,” Priwer said. “It was just so fascinating to me, how signing and communication worked.” 

Priwer looks forward to seeing others learn a new culture and a unique form of communication. 

“The language is so beautiful and those who speak it have such a passion about life,” Priwer said. “It is very active and theatrical.” 

The club held their first meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 3, where students went over the basics and learned the alphabet. 

“It was cool because it wasn’t just an introductory meeting, we actually started learning sign language,” senior Vanessa Buice said. 

Buice looks forward to the year and what is to come for the club, especially because she has an interest in learning ASL. 

“It is such a unique club because we are learning a tangible skill,” Buice said. 

For Sawyer, this club will be about more than learning sign language; it also aims to spur connection and friendship among all types of people. 

“It’s going to be a community of learning, but I’m also so ready to be a friend,” Sawyer said. “The people I know that want to come have a heart for other people and a heart to learn and include.”