American Sign Language opens new opportunities for students


ASL Peer Tutor Grace Brown helping student. Photo: Owen Jolly.

Owen Jolly, Staff Writer

BHS’ dual enrollment program allows BHS Juniors and Seniors to take two free college courses at colleges throughout Vermont. BHS Seniors Ella Larsen and Grace Brown are both pursuing one such course: American Sign Language (ASL).

 “I think [the ASL class is] a unique experience, and we get to have a teacher that we wouldn’t be able to have otherwise,” Larsen said. 

Dhyana Bradley, BHS’s college connections counselor, has served as an outlet for students looking to take college courses. 

“[Dual Enrollment] is a great opportunity for students to put out their feelers,” Bradley said. “To see if they are interested in going into the arts, to see if they are interested in aviation, or engineering. It allows them to get some first-hand knowledge of what their interests are.” 

BHS Senior Grace Brown wanted to take American Sign Language to help her reach her dream of nursing. 

“I feel like if I’m able to sign to my deaf patients directly, I think they’d be more comfortable,” Brown said.

ASL Instructor Jacob Veeder. Photo: Owen Jolly

On the first day of class, Brown discovered that the instructor of the program was deaf. The course had translators to help students on the first day, but after this, only the teacher remained. 

 “I think that was great immersion because we weren’t speaking, we’re just signing the entire time,” Brown said. 

Brown wants to minor in ASL in college. She is taking ASL 2 through the Community College of Vermont (CCV) second semester this year and serving as a peer tutor to ASL 1 in the fall. 

“I honestly could have just started [learning ASL in college], but I wanted to step up,” Brown said. “I wanted to learn quite a bit before I got there, so it will be easier to adjust. Plus, I was so excited. I couldn’t wait to start.”

Ella Larsen is also currently enrolled in ASL 1 through CCV. 

“It’s online so it’s super easy to fit into my schedule,” she said.

ASL is only one course of a vast selection that dual enrollment offers. 

“Students are accessing child psychology, art classes, calculus, calculus 2,” Bradley said. “It is really so exciting that these students are finding classes that they want to take and are excited to go each week.”

Bradley’s favorite part of her job is hearing from students who have completed the program. 

“Sometimes they’re [at first] like ‘I’m really hesitant. I don’t think I can do it,’” she said. “When I touch base with students at the end of the semester it is like ‘I got the strongest grade in the class. It was the best experience ever.’”   

To take a class through dual enrollment, contact Dhyana Bradley at [email protected]