CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The American Sign Language (ASL) club from Faye Webb Elementary School will perform the National Anthem using sign language at Whataburger Field Opening Week.
Before every game, a special guest sings the National Anthem. The Hooks Organization readily agreed to the ASL club's request to perform the song.
"I knew a few kids myself who in a small town I grew up in Illinois, they have a state school for the deaf there. You saw a segment of the population that were deaf and hard of hearing, so sign language was a little bit more prevalent," said Brady Ballard, the Corpus Christi Hooks General Manager.
The ASL club at Faye Webb Elementary School, which started over ten years ago, now has about 50 or 60 students from 2nd to 5th grade.
"We have about 50 or 60 ASL students here," signed San Juana Rodriguez, the Deaf Education Teacher/ASL Club at Faye Webb Elementary School. "From 2nd grade all the way to 5th grade".
Some students have parents who are deaf and joined the club to better communicate.
"Whenever we get fast food and they can't speak to the front, so I have to speak for them," said Jesenia Borrero, a 4th grade ASL club member.
Some students joined just to be able to talk with their friends who sign. Like Matthew Hempstead, another 4th grade ASL club member.
"More of expression. If you don't really express yourself, it'll be hard from them to understand," said Hempstead.
Kimberly Krockover-Gellar, a Deaf Education teacher at Faye Webb, said that her students get excited when they have friends who can communicate with them in class.
"I know that my kiddos always get really excited when they have friends who can communicate with in the class and they really hold on to those friends and they say 'oh, my best friend' and they'll give them a sign name and they'll always talk about them in class like when we're doing a writing activity and 'who did you do that with?' and it's usually one of their friends from the club who learned ASL," said Krockover-Gellar.
Sophia Sanchez, who has been deaf since childhood, expressed her desire for more kids to learn ASL so that they can communicate with deaf people.
"So that they can talk to me and so they can talk to other deaf people and other deaf friends," Sanchez signed.
Faye Webb Elementary School is the only elementary school in the Corpus Christi School District that offers an ASL club.
"When you work with deaf people like for a doctor's appointment," Rodriguez added, "or if you go to the hospital or school, all those things, you need an interpreter for that".
San Juana Rodriguez, the Deaf Education Teacher and ASL Club Advisor, hopes that her students will use their ASL skills in the future to help the deaf community.
"They might become interpreters or ASL teachers or deaf ed teachers and work with deaf students," signed Rodriguez.
The ASL club will perform the National Anthem before the first pitch on April 7th.
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