In the week leading up to exams, two separate groups of students stepped out of the classroom and in front of members of the CJ and Miami Valley communities to share holiday carols and spread Christmas spirit.
Carolers taking American Sign Language with teacher Judi MacLeod signed song lyrics for faculty and staff Tuesday, Dec. 13 while senior members of FLIGHT (Faith Leaders in God’s Hands Today) sang for residents of the Mercy Sienna Woods Retirement Community a day later during period 1 on December 14.
“FLIGHT students are faith leaders in our school, and part of that is modeling what it is to be a person of faith who lives out our Gospel call to serve others,” said Kelli Kinnear, director of ministry and service.
According to Kinnear, the call to serve presented itself this holiday season through an opportunity to bring the gift of music into the lives of residents who may not have many visitors or spend much time outside of the north Dayton nursing home. The gift, a small gesture of kindness, is one many at CJ feel can be given universally.
“I always think of music as transcending all boundaries,” said Debi Schutt, chair of the performing arts department.
Schutt and those taking her period 6 Music Theory course were treated to unique versions of Christmas favorites Jingle Bell Rock, Winter Wonderland and Do You Hear What I Hear? as performed by students using only their hands.
“Some people believe the hearing impaired can’t enjoy music, but that is not always the case,” said MacLeod, who provided vocals and graded students during performances. She incorporates music as a component of her first semester American Sign Language final exam each school year.
“The kids work very hard on their carols from about Thanksgiving on,” she said. “They learn, sign and interpret each song by exploring the idioms within the lyrics.”
Students were tasked with translating common expressions into appropriate signs in order to avoid confusion amongst the audience while properly maintaining the song’s meaning. MacLeod pointed out the phrase “bushels of fun,” a lyrical idiom found in line three of Jingle Bell Rock, as an example.
The combination of singing and signing is slated to hit the CJ stage during a performance by members of the liturgical choir at the December 21 Christmas concert Sounds of the Season. MacLeod said she hopes to eventually organize an Eagles sign-singing ensemble similar to the University of Dayton’s Hands in Harmony group.