The Deaf community spells out “I LOVE YOU” for Valentine’s Day

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Elle Rotter

Taking advantage of ASL Club time after school in ASL Club Sponsor Jessie Menchak’s room, freshman and ASL Club member Bella Neisius cuts out hand-shaped Valentines. Club memebers gathered together to cut out cards and make tissue paper flowers for Valentines. “I like learning new things about the Deaf community at West and [meeting] all the Deaf kids within [our school] and connecting with them,” Neisius said.

Gathered as a small group in American Sign Language (ASL) Club sponsor Jessie Menchak’s room Jan. 30, both Deaf and hearing students spent time making valentines for classmates to be sold the week of Valentine’s Day, Feb. 10 – 13. 

ASL Club made tissue paper flowers and ‘I-LOVE-YOU’ hand Valentines to help raise Deaf awareness and promote their club. People within the ASL Club and Deaf community gathered to make sure their minority is heard. 

“I hope it brings more people to the club and spread more awareness about the Deaf [world] and ASL,” senior and ASL Club President Caroline Bellido said.

Profits from this fundraiser will go to the ASL Club and their efforts to bring awareness to the Deaf community. 

“[The fundraiser] could bring more people if they are or have been interested in coming to our club,” Bellido said. “I’ve noticed throughout every meeting we’ve gotten smaller as a group.”

Sophomore and ASL Club Vice President Hannah Lumpkins said this is also an opportunity for students to bond. 

“I feel it’s very good to be well-rounded in different cultures because a lot of high schoolers feel like they don’t know a lot about sign language and the Deaf community so they just try to avoid it,” Lumpkins said. “That creates tensions and separations of different groups and minorities, so I feel like this will be able to bring a community together.”

Elle Rotter
Freshman and ASL 2 student Aly Kroner helps cut out Valentines in the ASL 2 class.

 Club members, both Deaf and hearing, want to bring exposure to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH) program. 

“It’s important that people are exposed to minority groups [to] understand this is a culture within our school,” Menchak said. 

Lumpkins and other ASL students hosted a table at lunch for extra information and awareness of this fundraiser. 

“I feel like [people] just need to learn to be open and accepting to learning new things and to not judge as quickly,” Lumpkins said. “Try new things and accept new opportunities.” 

Forms to buy these Valentines can be found in Menchak’s room, at the school store and at the lunchroom table. 

“The Deaf can feel like they’re a minority in the sense that there’s communication barriers between students,” Lumpkins said. “I feel like if we are offering a safe place for people to come and communicate and be themselves, it may offer them an outlet to express themselves and be more comfortable within the school setting.”