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Home | Tag Archives: Hillside Elementary

Tag Archives: Hillside Elementary

Video+Story: Students, Parents Shine in EPISD’s Signing Bee

Not all spelling bees require a voiced response.

On Thursday, students in EPISD’s Regional Day School for the Deaf showed off their American Sign Language skills at the annual Signing and Reading Bee at Hillside Elementary.

Kinder through third-grade students participated in the Reading Bee, which asked contestants to sign or speak words displayed on a screen using American Sign Language, or ASL. Older students used their hands to spell words that were signed to them using ASL.

“Our students have spent a long time perfecting their ASL skills and today they showcased just how far they have come,” said Jason Lilly, the facilitator for the Regional Day School for the Deaf. “It’s great to see students participate and parents engage in an activity as essential and fun as a spelling bee.”

First place in the signing competition went to fifth-grader Ruben Lazo, who beamed with pride each time he spelled a word correctly. As he walked back to his seat, he would show a big grin and give thumbs up to the crowd.

“We practiced in the classroom, and I studied with my parents. They would watch me and practice with me at home,” he said with the help of an interpreter. “I was very excited because all of us did good, but first place is better.”

Lazo and other winners were awarded medals and certificates by members of the Del Norte Lions Club. THe Lions Club has long been a supporter of individuals with sight and hearing challenges.

Third-grader Aylin Rios showed off the silver medal around her neck.

“We have been practicing for weeks,” she said. “It was fun. I feel happy I got second place.” 

The students were not the only ones signing on Thursday, however. The event featured a contest for parents, who also are learning ASL in order to communicate with their children.

“We really wanted to make sure we are involving the parents because that is going to be the biggest indicator of student success, particularly for deaf and hard of hearing students,” Lilly said. “The students are getting the language here at school, but we want to make sure they are getting it at home as well.”

The school offers free ASL classes every Monday from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

“Parents are learning important phrases 0they are going to be using them at home with their children,” he said.

Parent Jacqueline Paz, the mother of a pre-k student in the program, has noticed a big difference since she started attending the sign language classes.

“It has helped tremendously. She has cochlear implants, so we would just try talking, but she was very frustrated,” she said. Learning to sign we have found a way to communicate. It’s been amazing for our family. I’ve seen her grow so much.”

Paz’s tenacity and dedication to her daughter earned her first place in the contest.

“I feel proud because there was a time I thought it was so hard but coming every week I have learned so much,” she said. “I am so thankful for our school and our community. It’s so tight-knit, and everyone is so helpful. It feels so good to have parents and teachers that come together for the sake of our kids.”

Story by Alicia Chumley / Photos by Leonel Monroy / Video by Raymond Jackson – EPISD

Video+Story: Hillside Students Visit Signing Santa, Learn Life Skills During Mall Visit

Students in the deaf education program at Hillside Elementary School got a real-life lesson in navigating the world this week when they rode Sun Metro to Basset Place and even shopped for Christmas presents without the help of an interpreter.

The Regional Day School Program for the Deaf (RDSPD) students climbed on a city bus headed for Bassett Thursday morning before using skills they learned in school to order pizza and do some shopping at Target. The trip included a visit to a Santa Claus who knows American Sign Language.

“We teach them what do you do when you go shopping or want to order something in the food court and there’s not an interpreter there or someone who signs,” said Jason Lilly, facilitator for the RDSDP. “These are all skills that they have to learn to navigate a hearing world.”

The field trip was funded through an Eyes for Independence grant.

Fifth-grader Ramoncito Sanchez enjoyed his bus ride and adventure at Bassett.

“It was a good experience and it makes you more mature,” he said through an interpreter.

His mom Vanessa Banuelos, who also grew up in the RDSPD, joined her son at Bassett. The mother and son both spoke through an interpreter.

“Remember son, I’ve taught you that it’s important to learn how to take the bus,” Banuelos told Ramoncito. “I’ve taught you to be independent for your future.”

Ramoncito slyly responded to his mom: “It’s not easy but I’ll be learning.”

The visit with Santa was the highlight of the trip to the mall for Ramoncito.

“I felt excited to see Santa. He signs,” Ramoncito said, flashing a big smile. “I like a Santa that signs because I’m deaf. He knows there are deaf people here. It easier to communicate with him.”

Ramoncito’s visit with Santa flooded Banuelos with memories from her days at Hillside.

“It touches my heart,” Banuelos said. “He connects with all the kids here. They can relate to him because he signs and they sign. The kids know ‘that’s my language.’”

After the visit with Santa, the students headed to the food court for lunch. Most lined up at Sbarros for a slice of pizza, while others went to Subway. Many brought sheets of paper showing what they wanted to eat while others used their best voices to communicate their order.

“I asked for pizza with pepperoni,” said Jesus Jasso, using his voice.

His mom, Claudia Jasso, sees the value in field trip and the skills it teaches her son for the future.

“I like that they show them how to order and do these things because it is a lot more difficult for them,” Jasso said. “My son can speak but you can’t always understand what he saying so they help him write what he wants.”

Santa also was the highlight of Jesus’ visit to the mall.

“I was happy to see Santa,” Jesus, who asked for Legos, said. “It made me feel better because he knows what I want.”

His mom had already taken him and his hearing twin brother to see Santa but this experience made a world of difference to Jesus.

“Here he doesn’t have to struggle telling him what he wants,” Jasso said. “He feels more comfortable signing to Santa.”

The visit with Santa also served as a learning opportunity for the students.

“The speech therapist works with them to create that sentence structure so that we’re using English structure as they tell Santa what they want,” Lilly said. “The whole event is truly a learning experience for them.”

Lilly said the annual event also promotes the services available at RDSPD for parents of deaf infants and preschoolers.

“It’s a time of the year when the rest of the community actually gets to see what we do on a daily basis,” Lilly said. “We have a poor early identification here in El Paso so having this event actually helps promote the Regional Day School Program for the Deaf so people know we’re here and we can start helping provide that service.”

Story by Reneé de Santos | Photos by Leonel Monroy  | Video by Raymond Jackson/EPISD

Two El Paso ISD Schools among 26 Texas Blue Ribbon Nominees

Two El Paso ISD campuses are among the selective group of 26 Texas schools that have been nominated for the 2017 National Blue Ribbon Award recognizing the top schools in the country.

Dr. Green Elementary School and Maxine Silva Health Magnet High Schools were among the group of exemplary, high performing schools that are vying to compete for the privilege of being named a Blue Ribbon School. Winners will be announced in September.

“It’s an honor to be among the handful of Texas school districts that have schools on the list of nominees,” said Superintendent Juan Cabrera. “The fact that we have two schools on that list is proof positive that the focus on future readiness and innovation in our classrooms is paying off.”

If Green is selected, it would join nine other schools – including Silva – in EPISD that have received a Blue Ribbon since the program’s inception in 1982.

Silva’s nomination gives it the opportunity to win its third Blue Ribbon Award. The school earned the distinction in 2003 and 2011 — the most awards of any school in El Paso County.

Besides Silva, the other EPISD schools with Blue Ribbons are: Crockett Elementary, Schuster Elementary, Hillside Elementary, Coldwell Elementary, Douglass Elementary, Transmountain Early College High, Cielo Vista Elementary and Lamar Elementary.

Nominated schools must now complete a rigorous application process that will be monitored by the U.S. Department of Education. Winners will be recognized during a Blue Ribbon awards ceremony in Washington, D.C.

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