Book Drive for ASL is a Success


Zoey Kennedy, Reporter

On Wednesday, Dec. 7, ASL 3/4 students went on a field trip to St. Rita’s School for the Deaf, where they were able to learn and explore deaf culture. At the same time, they were able to donate the books raised in the ASL book drive from the week prior.

The book drive came to be when last year’s ASL students visited St. Rita School for the Deaf and noticed that the school did not have a library. ASL Club President, Mallory Witsken came up with the idea. She said, “Last year we took the same trip to the school. We asked about the school library, and the person giving us the tour actually told us that they didn’t have one at the time, but they took donated books so the kids can read those. So this year I brought up the idea to Mrs.Wilke that we should do a book drive so when we come to their school we can bring some books for the students to enjoy”.

The book drive was an overall success and allowed the St. Rita students to have more resources added to their new library. “We collected almost 500 children’s books. That was way more than I expected for the first time around”. said Mrs. Miller-Wilke, “St. Rita’s has not had a school library until this year. It is just starting up and they do not have many resources. The books will be used by teachers, speech therapists, and students to practice reading, speech skills, ASL vocabulary and to overall improve language skills”.

Students involved were able to put their sign language skills to the test. They were also able to learn about deaf culture and examples of what some students have to go through. Mallory Witsken said, “I think the main goal was to be able to one, see the school and experience how different their learning is from ours. And two, to put our sign language to use and communicate with people at the school”.  

Mrs. Miller-Wilke hoped to teach her students compassion towards what deaf students have to go through as well as about deaf culture. “Giving to those who are in need of something is something everyone should experience. 90% of deaf children are born into hearing families. This means that many times, the parents do not know sign language. The only place these students get language input is at school. My hope was that students see firsthand the type of educational services available to Deaf and Hard of Hearing children”, said Mrs. Miller-Wilke, “I am always happy when I see my students learn new things. Seeing them soak in all the natural language and culture that happens in that type of environment just makes me happy”. 

Although the book drive was a success in the end, in the beginning, it was difficult to get enough students to participate. Many did not know the book drive was running and therefore were unable to contribute. “I feel that there could have been some sort of class competition to see which grade level could bring in the most books. Everyone has books at home they have outgrown or don’t need anymore. It clears up some clutter at home and gives kids an opportunity to improve their literacy”, said Mrs. Miller-Wilke. Mallory agrees saying, “If we are to do the same thing next year we need to have it spread more. We need more students to get involved with the book drive. even though we had a lot of books donated I would have been happy to see more”.