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Myriam Joseph-Schilz Wins Marie Jean Phillip ASL Poetry Contest

MyriamKendall second grader Myriam Joseph-Schilz, who won first place in the 8 and under ASL Poetry category, was one of five KDES award winners at the Marie Jean Phillips ASL Competition. This competition is part of the George W. Veditz ASL Festival "Celebration of ASL in ASL" hosted by the Sign Language Program at Northeastern University. The popular festival attracted over 600 people, and this year's competition consisted of four categories: ASL Poetry, ABC Story, ASL Storytelling, and Deaf Art.

In the ASL Poetry category, Joseph-Schilz gave a presentation she titled "Deaf Monster." The category requirements state that entrants must finish in under three minutes, use only two or three handshapes, and ensure that the poem addresses an aspect of Deaf history, Deaf Culture, or the Deaf Community. The handshapes Joseph-Schilz used were the letter C, the number one, and a flat B.

At least one KDES student placed in each of the four categories. TaoDe Ogden finished second in the 8 and under special needs category for ASL Storytelling; Gabriel Veit finished second in the 9-12 year old category for Deaf Art; Diamante Brooke finished second in the 13-18 special needs ASL Poetry category; and Amberline Hines finished third in the 13-18 ABC Story category.

The students worked hard inside and outside of the classroom for at least two weeks preparing their projects. KDES ASL specialists, classroom teachers, and other staff members supported the students in their efforts by serving as practice audience members.

The festival honors George Veditz, President of the National Association of the Deaf from 1907 to 1910, believed strongly in the importance of preserving American Sign Language through movies. Thanks to his leadership and support, the NAD starting taping and sharing movies in ASL, increasing exposure to ASL and ensuring preservation of the language as it was signed in those early years. Other events at the festival included workshops and performances by internationally recognized Deaf performers. Clayton Valli, MJ Bienvenu, Patrick Graybill, and Manny Hernandez have performed at the festival in previous years.