Sign Club began in the spring of 2010 during Jacob LeVasseur and Katie Clifton’s freshman year, after LeVasseur heard from other students who were interested in learning sign language.
Ever since that first semester of Sign Club, it has gone strong; in the second year, they started the sign concerts.
“We want to give people the opportunity to learn this beautiful language. It’s a way of communication with a community and culture we wouldn’t have [the] opportunity to speak with otherwise,” said Clifton.
Sign language concerts give further awareness to the club, sign language, and the deaf community. And for anyone wondering what a sign language concert entails, musical tracks are played as signers rhythmically interpret the lyrics in American Sign Language.
Though the Sign Club originated with the purpose of teaching college students, members in the Sign Club now include children and adults from Quincy.
The concert opened with three performances by the children, including Professor Krejci-Papa’s twins, alongside Clifton. Those in the college sign classes performed prior to intermission, as Clifton emceed for the speaking, and LeVasseur did for those fluent in sign.
In each performance, the participants signed with passion and expression. Lauren Dempster was one of those signers.
“Once I’m there, I get so into it. I always get nervous, but the stage is where I’m most comfortable,” said Dempster, who did both a duet with Jocelyn Frederick, and a solo performance of “Give Me Your Hand.”
The concert even featured a black light performance where the only thing the audience could see onstage was the signers’ hands.
Then, the seniors came on stage, marking this show as theirs when, in the musical break of “Whispers in the Dark,” they inserted a voice clip, that they signed along with. The voices on the clip said, “Hi, I’m Katie. Hi, I’m Jacob. Hi, I’m Andrew. We’re seniors. Can’t touch this.”
After intermission, there were a number of solos, along with two duets. Of special note was Kayla Rearick’s “When I Was Your Man.” She is a freshman and has only been practicing sign language since the start of this semester.
“I chose [the song] because lots of my friends have been going through hard times lately. That was for them,” said Rearick.
Cecleia Theberge performed the song “Skin,” a performance made even more poignant when the audience learned Theberge had recently lost her mother to cancer.
After Melanie Marchetti and Rearick closed the show, they surprised the audience with a song mash-up that began with “Club Can’t Handle Me Right Now” and ended with “My Life Would Suck Without You,” the final notes of the song ending with the two seniors pointing at each other on “you”, then hugging, ending the concert on a fantastic note.
And while the founders of the club (including Monica Gonzalez who was not a part of this year’s concert) will be graduating, they will be remembered for bringing sign language to ENC.
The Sign Club meets Monday evenings from 6:30-8:30 p.m. in Angell 24 and they are always happy to see new faces, Clifton said when she ended the concert.
Sign language is here to stay at ENC and next year’s concert with a new crop of signers is sure to be something to look forward to.