After a series of forced speeches delivered by less-than-thrilled teenagers, the enthusiasm Tommi Cooley exuded was refreshing. Just to look at her while demonstrating her project to the class was exciting—just as thrilling for the audience as it was for her to show off her new skills.
Who doesn’t like to see someone with a passion for what they are doing, let alone when they are doing something so different from the rest of their peers?
Cooley, a Sequoyah High School senior, learned American Sign Language for her senior project.
“I have always been interested in ASL for a long time and I also met a deaf boy at thespian conference and that inspired me to finally learn it,” Cooley said.
While taking private lessons with a deaf teacher Cooley said, “I learned a lot about deaf culture and deaf etiquette and also the language itself. I had private study sessions with [my project facilitator] at the library, her house and various restaurants.”
“I loved [my project]. ASL is something that I have really developed a passion for,” said Cooley.
Although her fervor for learning American Sign Language was ever-present, Cooley described the hardest part of her senior project to be the studying.
“I always had to review what I had previously learned and it was hard to find the time to do that.”
Cooley logged 22 hours in her product work log; however, she said, “I will never technically be completed with it because you always keep learning a language.”
Will she move on to Spanish Sign Language later? We’ll see.
“Many people think that ASL is a universal language, but it's not. Every country has its own version of sign language.”
For her future career goals this project is especially applicable to this senior because Cooley said, “I want to work with special education kids. ASL can be very useful for kids with special needs.”
Overall, this project allowed Cooley to discover a new passion and opened a door leading to many career opportunities in the future for this Sequoyah senior.