Children grades fourth through sixth played a game of Simon Says at Blue Ridge Community College on Wednesday — with only signs and no words.
In the American Sign Language class at the Learning Can Be Fun summer youth program, seven students signed colors, ice cream flavors and more.
Lillian Novotny, 9, of Waynesboro, and Sarah Eckert, 9, of Stuarts Draft, wanted to take the class for a similar reason.
“I know someone in our karate class that’s deaf that I want to talk to,” Novotny said.
Eckert also wanted to communicate with someone.
“There’s someone at our church who is deaf,” she said.
The group has learned how to introduce themselves in sign language. They can sign hello, sign the alphabet and know plenty of signs for items and words. The class also plays games, such as Simon Says, and creates art projects based on signs.
Eckert’s favorite part is singing and signing to songs.
“We get to do both English and sign language,” she said.
The two both looked forward to being able to communicate with their deaf friends.
Julie Foster, of Bridgewater, has taught ASL during the summer youth program at BRCC for about 20 years. She started signing in high school and took classes in college. Foster still takes classes on sign and retired from Harrisonburg High School teaching ASL.
“I love teaching this class,” she said. “They’re like sponges, really willing to learn. Everything is new and exciting for them. It gives them an opportunity to learn about a different culture.”
Blue Ridge Community College Learning Can Be Fun started June 17 and runs until July 19. Classes are one week, 15 hours and are grouped into specific age groups. The classes are small to allow for more individual attention.
Bridget Baylor, director of public relations at BRCC, said it gives kids a chance to explore a new hobby or get a taste of something that can be a potential career path.
“Hopefully it’s educational, but also fun,” she said.
There are classes for kindergartners through 12th grade. In addition to ASL, other classes include drone tech for young pilots, pre-vet technology, digital photography, water adventure week and more.
Some slots for the July 15-19 week are still available. For more information, visit brcc.edu/continuinged/lcbf.