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November 25, 2004

Hersey wins competition during Harper's DeaFest

From: Pioneer Press Online - Glenview,IL,US - Nov 25, 2004


Harper College celebrated deaf culture Friday and Saturday with more than 700 participants in the 12th annual DeaFest.

Debby Sampson, a Harper College instructional specialist and the chairwoman of DeaFest, co-founded the event, which traditionally is held the week before Thanksgiving.

"We had a desire to interest the community about deaf people," Sampson said through an interpreter. "It is a very empowering event."

DeaFest is an exploration of deaf culture and language, which is American Sign Language.

"There were four events, and they were all fabulous," Sampson said.

Several high schools competed in the High School Academic Bowl, which included a variety of subjects such as art, literature, science, math and social studies.

Defending champion Hersey High School -- a High School District 214 school in Arlington Heights -- won this year's bowl. The Wisconsin School of the Deaf was runner-up.

Quiz show debuts

This was the first year for "The Deaf Quiz Show" for adults. The format for the Saturday competition was similar to the television game show "Jeopardy."

"It's the first annual (adult quiz show) and was for the deaf nonprofit organizations," Sampson said. "It was also a smashing success."

Participants in "The Deaf Quiz Show" included teams from the Chicago Club of the Deaf, the Chicago Hearing Society, the Illinois Association of the Deaf, the Illinois Hands and Voices, the Illinois Telecommunications Access Corporations, the Midwest Center on Law and the Deaf and the Mount Sinai Hospital Deaf Access Program.


Peter Cook and Swedish performer Debbie Rennie created "candy for the eyes" with their storytelling.

"They are master storytellers," Sampson said. "They are two renowned performers who did storytelling and poems in American Sign Language."

Cook and Rennie held a story session for children Saturday afternoon, and they returned Saturday evening to present the "Hungry Eyes Festival" for an older audience.

Planners, sponsors

DeaFest was sponsored by the Harper College deaf and hard-of-hearing program's DeaFest '04 Committee, which included Sampson, Leslie Evans, Denise Kavin, Nicole Lynn, Marcie Sacks-Botto, Susan Teplinsky and Stephanie Wootten-Austin.

The Chicago Hearing Society and Deaf Communication by Innovation provided interpreting services for DeaFest events.

Other sponsors included Sorenson Video Relay Service, the Illinois Department of Human Services/Office of Rehabilitation Services, the Midwest Center for Postsecondary Outreach, the Harper College Student Activities Office (Harper Deaf Club and American Sign Language Club), and the Gallaudet University Regional Center at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kan.

Mario Bartoletti can be reached at

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