JWHS student proposes Sign Language course

Joliet West sophomore Kendall Fris endured months of planning in order to create her proposal for  the
first-ever JWHS American Sign Language course.

Joliet West sophomore Kendall Fris endured months of planning in order to create her proposal for the first-ever JWHS American Sign Language course.

Sydney Czyzon, Features Editor

When her freshman year began, current sophomore Kendall Fris was disappointed to learn that Joliet West lacked an American Sign Language (ASL) course. Since her mother is a Sign Language interpreter, Fris had a serious interest in learning how to speak with her hands.

However, instead of just accepting the fact, Fris decided to take action. On the first day of the 2014-2015 school year, Counsellor Mrs. Arroyo sent her to Principal Dr. Gibson for assistance. Dr. Gibson got Fris in touch with the Director of Curriculum for Social Science and World Languages, Mr. Filipponi.

Throughout the duration of multiple meetings, Mr. Filipponi helped Fris understand the lengthy process that she would have to undertake. In all, she would have to create a formal proposal, acquire at least 50 student signatures, research curriculum textbooks, and discuss things like instructor requirements, costs, and certification for students who complete the course.

Although the five-month process wasn’t easy, Fris was determined to reach her goal. After figuring out all of the details, she gave a presentation to the Curriculum Coordinating Committee to request that ASL become a foreign language class at Joliet West and Central. She had even collected an astounding 200 signatures and comments from JTHS students.

On February 5, 2015, the committee of teachers, principals, department heads, Assistant Superintendent Guseman, and Superintendent Dr. McCarthy agreed that they are optimistic about the future of an American Sign Language course at JWHS.

After hearing this hopeful news, Fris admitted, “The most rewarding part is still to come. It will be when I see the class listed alongside French and Spanish as a foreign language and when I am sitting in the classroom on the first day of my senior year.”

If formally approved on June 16, 2015, the American Sign Language course will be available during registration for the 2016-2017 school year. Fris explained that the class will entail deaf culture and history, while teaching pupils how to effectively communicate.

When asked why the class will be beneficial for students, Fris said, “It is important to learn an alternative language in order to have effective communication skills,” then adding, “There are also employment opportunities available having this skill.” She hopes that there will be enough student interest in the class to ensure that it is a permanent part of the JTHS curriculum.

Fris is extremely grateful for the encouragement from Mr. Filipponi and the support from the Curriculum Coordinating Committee.

She also encourages other students to follow in her footsteps. Fris expressed, “I hope that students realize they have a voice for change. When people have passionate ideas, they can become contributors to change for the greater good. I also want students, teachers, and administrators to share in the passion I have for learning a language we all hold in our hands.”