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The Student-Run News Site of Westside High School in Omaha, Nebraska. Keeping you WIRED in to all things Westside.

Westside Wired

The Student-Run News Site of Westside High School in Omaha, Nebraska. Keeping you WIRED in to all things Westside.

Westside Wired

The Student-Run News Site of Westside High School in Omaha, Nebraska. Keeping you WIRED in to all things Westside.

Westside Wired

Student creates opportunity to learn sign language after school

Hailey Potter
ASL club sponsors begin with teaching the letters of the alphabet to participants.

Students interested in learning sign language or advancing sign language skills now have an opportunity through a new club.

Lynn Johnson-Miles, the deaf educator for Westside Community Schools, co-founded The American Sign Language club with junior Sofia La Fata-Hornillos. American Sign Language, commonly referred to as ASL, is used to communicate with people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

“Sofia wanted to create the ASL club to help communications between people that are and aren’t deaf,” Johnson-Miles said. “It could also help people with jobs. Let’s say, you work at Starbucks, a deaf guy comes in and wants to order, they can’t talk but you could take their order learning the language.”

Johnson-Miles claimed that learning sign language is as important as any other language.

“It may not seem important but sign language is as important as French, Spanish, English or any other language in the world,” Johnson-Miles said. “It is a unique type of language.”

Johnson-Miles hopes for the club to grow as an advocacy organization, whether it be at Westside or not. She is not looking to make it into a class.  

“Anyone can join, you don’t have to be able to hear,” Johnson-Miles said.

She and La Fata-Hornillos have created plans for the club to engage the community and be known outside of the school. 

“Since we had our first meeting, we hope to go out into the community. We have two things in mind to participate in. One is the shadowed version of the Christmas carol and another is the deaf museum in North Omaha,” La Fata-Hornillos said.

Johnson-Miles also mentioned that creating the ASL club was an idea that she shared with La Fata-Hornillos.

“I have always been interested in learning sign language. I always told myself that if I want to learn a second language, it should be sign language,” La Fata-Hornillos said. “It’s a passion for me, and I want to make it more accessible for everyone.”

From the beginning, La Fata-Hornillos had clear goals for the club.

 “I didn’t want to establish a strict authority over the club where only my voice matters but opinions from others do as well. We all have the same goal of learning the language completely and understanding the history of the deaf community,” La Fata-Hornillos said. “We want to advocate for the deaf community. If we are able to, and if everyone stays in the club, we are thinking of turning this into a class at Westside.”

The club sponsors were unsure of how the club would operate at first, but were happy with how things began.

“For the first meeting, we learned some of the alphabet and tried spelling faster. It was like some sort of show and tell but with our fingers,” Lafata Hornillos said. 

The sponsors are focused on club participants learning ASL together so that their skills will develop at the same rate.

“We want to grow our advocacy and make this a class,” La Fata-Hornillos said. 

Both Johnson-Miles and La Fata-Hornillos’ goals are to assist students with special needs and make that assistance available at any time.

“We want to keep it going, I graduate in 2 years, which isn’t super close but close enough,” La Fata-Hornillos said. “I want the club to live on even after I leave since some clubs fall down the drain when their creators leave.”

La Fata-Hornillos hopes that as the club grows in reputation, so will the number of participants helping people learn sign language.

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About the Contributors
Juan Romero Sarraf
Juan Romero Sarraf, Lance Staff
Hi, my name is Juan. This is my first year on Lance. My freshman year, I was on WTV. I speak four languages; French, English, Spanish, and Arabic.
Hailey Potter
Hailey Potter, Shield Staff
My name is Hailey Potter and I'm a sophomore. Outside of school I like to play soccer and hangout with friends. Fun Fact: I live 30 minutes away from school!
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