Getting to Know Springdale High School’s Deaf Students


Keeley Miller

Have you ever seen the Sign Language interpreters at the front of an assembly and wondered who they were signing to? At Springdale High School this year, it’s at least one of three of the deaf students. There are Mark Hemos (grade 10), Queingland (Q) Debrum (grade 11), and Ryan Jacklick (grade 12).

Mark has been in Springdale and Springdale Schools for as long as he can remember. He has a friend at church, who goes to school in Fayetteville, that knows ASL and he likes to chat with her.

Q was born in the Marshall Islands and went to the deaf school there. When he first moved here he went to the School for the Deaf in Little Rock, AR. The School for the Deaf is mainly staffed by deaf and hard of hearing people. Some are hearing, but ASL is what is used to communicate. Q is also popular online. He has a group of people that he video chats and signs with.

Ryan moved here in 2010 from the Marshall Islands. Even though he can speak and hear pretty well, he also uses sign language to communicate occasionally. When going to class, he has an interpreter, but he also has a little microphone that the teacher wears around their neck, that way the sound goes straight to his hearing aids. This is called an FM system. Ryan said that he had a friend last year who he would communicate with in sign language, and then he graduated.

At school Mark, Q, and Ryan chat during their deaf ed class. Mark was born deaf, and being in hearing schools has made him and Q  feel a bit alone at times, Q also said that he sometimes doesn’t know what’s going on.  In Jacklick’s words, he’s “comfortable, [just] trying to fit in.” Although as Whitney Patterson, the Deaf Ed teacher, pointed out, it’s easier for Ryan to fit in because he can speak. 

In their Deaf Ed class, Patterson helps Q, Ryan, and Mark with their “academic and social skills while bridging the [gap] between English and American sign language. [Currently focusing] on skills that individuals with hearing loss need while living in a mostly hearing world.”

Stories in ASL (American Sign Language) are similar but not quite the same as in spoken english. In sign language everything is part of the story, the facial expressions, the speed of the signs, and the size of the signs all help tell the story. Whereas in spoken English, someone could tell the story very monotone and with no facial expression and the story is the same. Q was mentioned to be a “heck of a story-teller.”

If he could, Ryan would tell all the students and teachers that he is deaf, and proud of it. Q would say that he is happy to teach anyone who wants to learn sign language, and reminds us that we are all equal. 

Patterson said that she “would love for the students of SHS to be interested in learning sign language, to be able to communicate with all of us. [Mark, Q, and Ryan] are just like anybody else, and I want the school to know that they want to be able to communicate with students and teachers alike. We are here, and we’re willing to teach people to sign if they’re interested. Deaf culture is very unique and we’d love for SHS to learn more about our students and the world they live in!”

Being deaf can present itself as a problem for some people, whether that is learning sign language, having your family learn sign, or just trying to go about life in a world made for hearing people. At Springdale High School it doesn’t have to be a hard few years. If you see them in the hall, say hi! Try to communicate with those who may not hear you that well, and learn something new from one another!