Eighty students from across the province showed their Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing pride earlier this month during an inaugural online competition hosted by the Burnaby school district.
The Deaf and Hard of Hearing Proud Showcase on April 11 saw students in kindergarten to Grade 12 compete in American Sign Language poetry, art and communication – all on the theme of “What makes you proud to be Deaf or Hard of Hearing?”
Students from the B.C. Provincial School for the Deaf (BCSD), which shares a campus with Burnaby South Secondary School, owned the podium in the Grade 6-12 ASL poetry category, with Teanna Kay, Natasha Germaine and Angus LeMaitre placing first, second and third respectively.
“I absolutely love to advocate and support our community and be involved in all kinds of things and advocate for Deaf people,” Germaine said in an online interview with organizers, “so I felt that the more people that could be included, it meant the more the community could get together, but with COVID, I’ve noticed that it’s shrunk a little bit, the size of our community, so I’d really encourage people to participate and advocate for themselves.”
(Her words were translated by an ASL translator.)
In the ASL poetry category for students in kindergarten to Grade 5, BCSD’s Zoe Kalenuik came in first and Everly Hohnadel, also from BCSD, came in third.
The showcase also featured a Deaf Image Art (De’VIA) competition.
Burnaby Central Secondary School student Baowen Yan took first place honours in the Grade 6 to 12 section of that contest.
In the spotlight communication competition, Burnaby Mountain Secondary School student Izabella Kamaeva took third place in the Grade 6 to 12 category.
The event was put on by BC Provincial Outreach Program, Deaf and Hard of Hearing, a provincial program administered by the school district.
Prizes ranged from gift cards to Fitbit smart watches.
School board chair Jen Mezei opened the virtual gathering.
“Deaf culture is unique and part of a rich history with a beautiful language that enriches our school district,” she said.