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June 25, 2004

Kids gather for week of fun

From: Staunton News Leader, VA - Jun 25, 2004

Students come from all over state for VSDB program

By Jamie Kennedy/staff

STAUNTON -- Classes might be out for summer, but spending the week at school has been a blast for Roy Lunsford Jr..

He's made friends from all over Virginia, gone bowling, skating, swimming, hiking and examined soil and ticks under a microscope.

Lunsford, 15, and more than 70 other children and teens have spent the week at the Virginia School for the Deaf and the Blind this week for a summer program of field trips, sports, talent shows, and math and science activities. The students stayed in dorms at VSDB.

The deaf and hard-of-hearing students visited wetlands, a wildlife center, a trout farm and other places to study habitats.

Visually impaired students, who studied American Indian culture, went to Natural Bridge.

"It was interesting," said Andrew Tompkins, 14, from Springfield. "We found out a lot of facts about the bridge we went under."

Both groups held talent shows Thursday night.

During his show, Tompkins played three songs on the piano -- and gave an encore performance of the rock 'n' roll song "Chantilly Lace." During the show, most students sang or played musical instruments.

During the deaf students' talent show, students performed skits, rapped, juggled and signed songs -- and dorm supervisor Kevin MacFarland made an appearance as Elvis Presley.

MacFarland and other staff said the summer program has been a good chance for students who go to schools in which most students do not have vision or hearing disabilities to meet many other young people like them.

Also, for some of the participants, it is the first time they meet adult role models who are deaf or blind.

"They get a different perspective about their kind of community," MacFarland said.

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