Testimonial by student Dylan Van Horn

When I came to Washougal High School I wanted to be a pilot. I had a whole plan of how when I became a junior I would go to CTA and take the aviation program. I would one day be flying commercial airlines and go wherever I wanted to go. I had my whole career planned out. Then, I joined the ASL club.

At first, it didn't mean much to me; it was just a class to fulfill my world language credits. I took ASL because it seemed more interesting than Spanish at the time, although it was just a requirement. I didn't think much about it because I had never been introduced to ASL or anything about deaf people.

When I started the class I learned the fingerspelling alphabet and how to spell my name. I learned signs for things like, "nice to meet you" or "how are you". All of the sudden I noticed something strange. Wherever I was, whatever I was doing, I started to fingerspell anything anyone would say to me. Over time it became natural, I could fingerspell anything as fast as possible. My sister started asking what I was doing with my hand and so I showed her new signs. As we started to learn about more than just ASL, more than "nice to meet you"; I fell in love with the culture.

The deaf culture is so accepting of all people and they don't believe they have a disability. Everyone is so tight knit with each other. It seemed so exciting to be a part of such a welcoming and fun community. I soon learned about interpreting and all of the great programs for it. As I began thinking about Interpreting as my career, more and more opportunities came along. During my second year of ASL, Ms. Grant talked to me about their program where kids could perform ASL in Disneyland. It would be similar to the ASL shows, but it would be on a stage in California Adventure. The group and I practiced for almost a year, and (barring one push back) we performed only three weeks ago. It was one of the most fun and exciting experiences of my life. I was doing something I love, in a place I love. While there, I was able to talk with, and see perform, some of the interpreters that work for Disney. It was a very encouraging experience to hear their stories, and how one of them had not even taken ASL in high school.

Another experience that strengthened not only my skills in ASL, but my appreciation for interpreters, was my senior project. Last Friday, November 16th, Paige Wilson and I interpreted the entire musical put on by WHS Drama. After that long, difficult, but fun process, I can be sure what I want to do. Now, I know what my career will be. I am going to be an American Sign Language Interpreter. All of my experiences at Washougal High School and in the ASL club have helped show me what life can be like.

My involvement in the ASL club also encouraged me to get involved with other things. The people I met pushed me to be a better person. Since then, I have also lettered in varsity tennis, become ASB Executive President, and ASL president. Without the ASL club, I would not be the same person I am today. The ASL club is not only a club but a loving community of friends and family that I will never forget.

-Dylan Van Horn