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January 10, 2005

Deaf students working to raise funds for trip

From: Holland Sentinel - Holland,MI,USA - Jan 10, 2005

Teens hoping to visit college for deaf students in Washington, D.C.

Staff writer

In Holland, deaf children don't have many opportunities to interact with others in the deaf community.

However, in a couple of months five deaf students could get to meet many others who are deaf and learn more about opportunities available for the hard of hearing.

The deaf education program at Holland High School is planning a trip to Gallaudet University. The Washington D.C. school is only one of two colleges in the U.S. with a deaf student body.

"I don't think they have a clue as to how many deaf people they will see," said Betsy Jackson, a sign-language interpreter. "This trip will allow the students to immerse themselves in the deaf culture and experience college life."

The students are holding fund-raisers to go on a trip to Washington, D.C. Five students and two of their teachers and two sign language interpreters hope to spend five days at Gallaudet. Three are Holland High School students, one attends Holland West Middle School and the other is from Saugatuck who is a member of the Holland program.

"They really work hard," said Andrew Wiersma, a teacher for the hearing impaired. "They're just like any other students -- they aim to please."

The students also attend regular education classes.

"They don't see themselves as having a disability," said Kim Stevenson, a sign-language interpreter. "I'm excited for the kids to get an opportunity to go and to see they can succeed and do whatever they want to do."

Gallaudet is a Division III school and a member of the Capital Athletic Conference. The university offers more than a dozen varsity sports, including football.

The students plan to see a theatrical performance of "The Adventures of Huck Finn" which is co-produced by Deaf West Theatre. They also plan to attend the Gallaudet Dance Company's 50th anniversary dance concert.

"I want to go interact with all the other deaf individuals," said Luis Carreno, 18, who said he was born with hearing but lost it after a fall when he was an infant.

"I'm really excited about going," said Traci Kargies, 19, a deaf student. "I want to go watch the deaf dancers."

The March 22-26 trip is contingent on the students, teachers and sign language interpreters raising the $7,000 needed.

The students made promotional videos and sold "secret Santa" messages during their lunch hours. They delivered messages to other students.

The teachers are also seeking grants and are appealing to the community through the school district's newsletter.

Anyone wanting to make a donation can send a check to Holland High School, 600 Van Raalte Ave., Holland, MI 49423. Checks should be made out to Holland High School and be designated for the Total Communication program, which offers the program for the deaf and hard of hearing. Donations are tax-deductible. Contact Jackson at (616) 494-2200, extension 2320, for more information.

Contact John Burdick at or (616) 546-4275.

© Copyright 2005 The Holland Sentinel