New club teaches students “a lot more than words”


Siena Usui, Staff Writer

In a blur of motion, with her fingers curling and hands gesturing in different directions, Jackie Nafarrete stands at the front of the classroom, speaking a language that most students may not know: American Sign Language. 

The 10th grader, who has been learning the language for two years, just started a new club at Mid-Pacific. 

“Sign language is a lot more than words. It’s a whole different grammar pattern. If you don’t use your face or body language, then what you’re saying could be misinterpreted,” said Nafarrete.

The newly made club has recently started meetings, and focuses on teaching students the basics of sign language. 

There are hundreds of different ways to communicate with others. Some people might assume that there are only a few forms of sign language, but that is not the case.

According to Ethnologue: Languages of the World, there are about 144 sign languages.

“I’ve always had some sort of love for languages,” said Nafarrete.

Nafarrete started the club with 10th grader Shelby Honda, who is the Vice President. 

“I wanted to offer her guidance because I thought what she was doing was really important. I also wanted to help her out and give her advice on how to run the club successfully,” said Honda. 

Some of the club’s activities include finger spelling, creating their own name sign, and vocabulary games. Members are also considering doing fundraisers for the Hawaii School for the Deaf and the Blind. 

“If you learn sign language you realize that communication is much more than just talking,” said Nafarrete. 

Elizabeth Blauwiekel is the teacher advisor of the Sign Language club.

“I knew we didn’t have a club like this before, and learning sign language has been something that I’ve actually been really interested in for a few years,” said Blauwiekel. 

Their service events will begin next year, but meetings for the club are on Mondays after school, in H234. 

“We’re trying to break down barriers between those who can and cannot verbally speak because sign language isn’t just used for the deaf community, it’s used for non verbal people too,” said Nafarrete.