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Croton Third-Graders Embrace Sign Language

Croton-Harmon Carrie E. Tompkins Elementary School students in  the Signing with a Friend Club learned how to sign Pharrell William’s song “Happy.”
Croton-Harmon Carrie E. Tompkins Elementary School students in the Signing with a Friend Club learned how to sign Pharrell William’s song “Happy.” Photo Credit: Croton-Harmon Schools

CROTON-HARMON, N.Y. – Croton-Harmon Carrie E. Tompkins Elementary School students love new challenges, and when the school's sign language interpreter noticed an interest in sign language, she came up with a new one.

Christine Fico was struck by how third-grade students were enthusiastic about learning how to sign the Pledge of Allegiance, she started a lunch club for all third-graders at the school.

“The response was overwhelming,” she said. “When other third-graders saw what was going on, they begged to join.”

Twelve students joined the Signing with a Friend club, and the interest was enough that Fico expanded meetings to twice a week.

“Students learned signs related to playground, food, colors and numbers, and my deaf student suddenly had friends to communicate with,” said Fico.

Fico noted that the interest grew enough that students wanted to learn holiday songs, and even learned the lyrics to Pharrell Williams' “Happy” for the spring concert.

A deaf CET alumnus even recorded a music video of the students performing.

“Teachers, aides and lunch staff also started learning signs and recognizing the beauty of this 3-D language,” said Fico.

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