Sign language comes to chapel
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Have you made it to chapel yet this semester? If so, you may have noticed an addition to the Westmont Chapel Band: a student designated to do sign language while worship takes place.
The Westmont student who leads the congregation in sign language is Amanda Thomas. She started learning sign language in kindergarten because she had deaf and hard-of-hearing peers at her elementary school.
Growing up, Amanda never took any American Sign Language (ASL) classes, but in school she would listen to her teachers speak, and then watch the interpreter. After doing this daily, she was able to pick it up. Her church also had an interpreter so she learned religious words and themes at church and grammar and more basic vocabulary at school.
Amanda had a passion to communicate with the deaf kids in her classes growing up so she learned their language. She also has several friends at home who are deaf and has fun communicating with them. Now Westmont and local churches are able to benefit from her special gift she worked hard to attain.
Amanda says, “I am really excited to be starting this up at Westmont! It is cool to be able to do it here where I go to school. I think it is really powerful for people to see the songs we sing be put into motion. It adds another component to worshipping that I don’t think many people even think about.”
Senior Alyssa Klopfer is really excited about the new change. “I think the signing is a great addition to the chapel band for any hearing impaired students or guests that come visit Westmont,” said Klopfer.
Brooke Hankins on the chapel band states, “Amanda is a really hard worker and extremely humble. It’s been a joy to watch her follow her passion and live out what she was made to do.”
Students who enjoy more of a kinesthetic type of worshipping also benefit from this new addition. If this is something that appeals to you, make sure to sit in the first few rows of chapel in order to see the signing during worship.
Many students have approached Amanda in the last couple of weeks complimenting her on the impact she is making. The band eagerly welcomed her onto their team and she is thrilled to be a part of what God is doing through the Westmont Chapel band.