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Students Start Sign Language Club to Chat Easier with Deaf Classmate

The Short of It

An 11-year-old deaf boy's classmates started an American Sign Language Club so they could better communicate with him.

The Lowdown

Rhemy Elsey has been deaf since he was born. He'd been attending a special school in his district for kids with hearing loss until this year, when his mom decided he was ready for middle school.

After meeting Rhemy, the students at his new school—who had never been around a deaf person before—approached the principal about starting a sign language club so they could better communicate with him.

So amazing!

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"They were very determined to make sure the club happened," Rhemy's interpreter, Tammy Arvin, told "I loved the idea too, so I started to plan."

Now 12 classmates gather every Wednesday during lunch and recess so Arvin can teach them how to sign.

"Instead of learning a foreign language, like Spanish or French, that I can use in the future, I wanted to learn sign language so that I can use it right now to talk to Rhemy," said student Dezyrae Clarke.

Arvin said the students like to show Rhemy all the signs they've learned—phrases like "How are you?" and "What's your name?"—and talk about stuff they're interested in.

"It's been fun to see him able to interact with his peers without the necessity of me being there to interpret for him," she said.

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Check out my story on these awesome 5th graders that are learning sign language--all so that they can communicate with a...

Posted by Alyssa Paldo on Friday, February 19, 2016

The Upshot

What a great story about kids rising to the occasion! And how incredible for Rhemy to be embraced this way in his new school!

"It makes me feel happy to know they started a sign language club," he told Today. "I looooooove sign language."

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I also think Dezyrae makes an interesting point—if schools are offering classes in foreign languages, like Spanish and French, shouldn't sign language be an option, too?

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