Surprise! BHS and IHS ASL classes combined for a week


The picture is a fingerspelling of ASL using the American Sign Language alphabet. Photo credit: pixabay

On January 2nd, 2 days before we all returned to our online classes until mid-winter break, ASL teacher Mr. Andy Gault sent out an email to his students. This email included encouragement towards his students as well as an important message that Inglemoor’s ASL teacher was out taking care of her family and that he would be adopting her classes for the week. 

In my interview with Mr. Gault, he went more in depth about the situation and how the “adoption” came to be. “With any time that somebody is in a situation they reach out to their friends […] I was reached out to and understood their situation, and being the person that I am—this person has been a good friend for 20 years—an idea came right away.” Mr. Gault wasn’t doing this to be a superhero, but because it was the right thing to do and he “saw all the positives.” 

The following Monday, I logged on to Zoom and waited for ASL 300 to begin. I myself, as well as probably many other ASL 300 students in Gault’s class, were prepared to lead and be patient and help these students improve their skills while their teacher was away. Adelaide Larson (‘21), a fellow ASL 300 student, after reading Gault’s email “thought it was really exciting.” Larson went on to say that it was really great that “we’ll get to mentor them [the ASL 100 students from IHS] or maybe we’ll get to teach them things that we would have wanted to know during our first year of ASL.”  

My first impression going into class was that these students were brave, but also probably nervous and going through something I remember feeling. I completely understand that it’s scary to be around students who are older and more experienced than you; I felt the same way at some of my first few Deaf Events (events hosted involving ASL and Deaf culture that ASL students in Northshore attend for exposure and class credit.) Looking back now, there are so many things I wish I would have been confident enough to do, which is why I think it’s so important now for younger students to fully embrace their fears and put themselves out there because it will teach them so many new things. 

Mr. Gault, wanting to really let his students be immersed with the Inglemoor students, created combined breakout rooms where we practiced our introductory skills learned in ASL 100. However, Gault also catered to students’ needs by creating two rooms, one with all 300 students and one with all 100 students; this way he could drop in and give each level their own assignment to complete in Schoology. In Gault’s opinion this form of teaching both classes “worked out swimmingly,” which is a statement I wholeheartedly agree with. 

Typically, in the case of high schools, many of us think of each other as rivals, especially when it comes to sports, but I think lots of us forget that Bothell, Inglemoor, Woodinville, and North Creek are all Northshore; we’re small communities built inside a big community. “There’s so much stigma behind a rival school or a different school. You feel that way because it’s different and it’s new, versus welcoming them, they’re just like us, they just live in a different house,” Gault said on the topic. Personally, I think language classes from the different high schools should interact with each other more and Larson seemed to agree. “I met a lot of other people from other schools [at Deaf Events pre-COVID-19] and just made friends. […] I kind of miss that, so I think that [interaction between languages from different schools] should definitely be a regular thing,” she explained. 

Overall, Mr. Gault wanted his students to have a positive experience and important takeaways from this combined experience. I would easily say that’s what happened; personally, I felt more confident in my abilities and enjoyed seeing how far I’ve come since ASL 100. Larson said, “I learned to be more confident in what signs I was doing or my grammar; it made me remind myself that I know stuff and I can teach someone…”

To all of those Inglemoor ASL students, I hope you enjoyed your experience as much as us Bothell kids did!

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