Highland Rambler

The student news site of Highland High School in Salt Lake City, Utah

Highland Rambler

Highland Rambler

Hands Fly, Lots of Snacks, Yet Not a Sound, Here Comes the ASL Club!

Hannah Pace
Highland ASL teacher Ms. Gundlah interacts with students to form the correct hand positions to create different words.

Every Wednesday, Bella Savarese gets together with friends and peers at Highland after school at 3:30. And they talk. But barely a sound is made. They can communicate so much without uttering a single word.

As their hands fly about the air, they can connect without having to talk. They watch videos and learn about the deaf community while eating lots of snacks.

The ASL Club is an opportunity for students after school to learn American Sign Language, learn about deaf culture, and connect with other peers at Highland. The head of the club is Valerie Gundlah who speaks this language fluently.

“It’s really peaceful after a long day of school and constant noise,” Savarese, a sophomore at Highland, said.

Each meeting provides an opportunity to learn about the deaf culture. They also learn many different vocabulary words from the American Sign Language (ASL). From numbers to how to express feelings, the club learns a lot each time they meet. Club members also learn the proper grammar all led with their eyebrows in ASL. They also watch different videos about how ASL has spread throughout the world and the deaf culture. For them, this is the way they communicate which brings so much light into their lives.

The videos highlight the before and after of when deaf people learned sign language. The kids and adults featured in the videos experience an incredible change. From not being able to communicate, which leads to loneliness and depression, learning ASL brings about a hope that only comes with the ability to speak with others.

Gundlah was leaving a deaf meetup that had gone two hours late, and as she was crossing the street to her car with her husband. She walked up next to a man and tried to communicate with him that the crosswalk was very close. He signed back to her that he was deaf. Gundlah exploded in excitement as she was able to have a full conversation in ASL with this man.

“It was the best, the absolute best,” Gundlah (Highland High School Spanish teacher, head of ASL Club) said as she told her experience of being able to communicate with a deaf man while crossing the street.

Communication is such an important part of society, and ASL has been a true gift to people who are deaf or have hard of hearing. The club hopes to learn ASL during their meetups but also hopes to preserve deaf culture.

Gundlah’s hope as the head of the club is to do more than just a low-key club with these students. She hopes to not only preserve the deaf culture but provide multiple opportunities to serve and connect with deaf people for these students. One idea that Gundlah hopes to make into a reality, is gathering the ASL Club to walk up to an elementary school to play and talk to deaf students in the afterschool programs near Highland.

The ASL Club meetings have a lot in common with “deaf meetups”. This is because they will always have food at events, they are the first people to be there and the last ones to leave. Similarly, club meetings often go over an hour by accident.

“If we don’t eat, we don’t meet! That’s my motto,” Gundlah said.

The ultimate goal for this club, is to get an ASL class and teach Highland students about this language and culture. The challenge for this goal is finding students who are interested in taking these classes.

“I would love to eventually see it as a class at Highland,” Gundlah said.

The ASL Club is a great opportunity to learn about deaf culture and ASL. With multiple students coming together each week to communicate with their hands and eyebrows as grammar. Eating lots of snacks they continue to progress after each meetup. And no one judges when you talk with your mouth full.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Highland Rambler Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *