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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

Students take up American Sign Language alternative

To graduate, students need to complete two years of a foreign language. Though there are many ways for them to fulfill this requirement, almost all to the language classes offered at school.
One of the possible alternative languages is an unexpected one: American Sign Language (ASL), a course that can be taken at local colleges like De Anza College and West Valley College and fulfills the language requirement.
Junior Reilly Bowker explained how taking ASL at a community college has its advantages. 
“I wanted to do something different,” Bowker said, who took the class at De Anza College. “And besides the credit, it’s a chance to learn something nobody else knows.”
Taking a class outside of school also allows students a period in their schedule to take another class or use as a break. Bowker only attends the class only on Tuesdays and Thursdays after school and therefore has a free seventh period during school.
The only high school students who can take ASL at a college are juniors and seniors, since it is considered an advanced class.
“Although the class is a great opportunity, I was the only high school student who took advantage of it,” Bowker said. “My class is comprised of only me and adults who attend the college itself.”
She said that she has no plans to use what she will learn in the class in a future career, but she does make use of ASL occasionally outside of class to have small conversations with people who understand.
Senior Ben Smerdon also learned ASL outside of school last year at West Valley College.
Smerdon said that he did not enjoy Spanish much, so he decided to take ASL classes. Unlike Bowker’s class, he had about five to seven other SHS students in his classes.
 “I only had it once a week — each class was three hours long,” Smerdon said. “I really enjoyed it because I’m a visual learner, and [the language] played to my personal strengths.”
Smerdon said the class also introduced him to the deaf community. Through his class, he was required sign with other students and people who are deaf. In doing so, he was able to gain experience with people who were much more comfortable with the language in a non-classroom environment.
“It's a pretty fun experience,” Smerdon said.
 Though Smerdon is not taking the class this year, he learned enough to hold a decent conversation using ASL.
“Being able to use sign language makes me feel prepared,” Bowker said. “It is more useful than other languages because the type of people that learn it is larger and more broad.”
 
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