Liberty student prompts new language option in Bethlehem

December 3, 2017 by  

A Liberty High School student’s experience learning sign language facilitated Bethlehem High School to add it as a foreign language choice.

The decision was made by the Bethlehem School Board at a meeting to decide on a new program of studies. The district will be offering a level one American Sign Language course during its 2018-19 school year, thanks to the input in the form of a letter from Jake Weikert, which led to a petition.

The summer before he entered high school, Weikert decided to learn sign language. The Hanover Township youngster learned to sign quickly and practiced his new skill eating lunch with hard of hearing and deaf students at his school. Other friends joined him and learned some signing as well. He even initiated the formation of an American Sign Language club.

Researching the possibility of having sign language as a foreign language option, Weikert discovered Parkland School District doing just that. According to chief academic officer and assistant superintendent of Bethlehem School District Jack Silva, expansion of world language programs is universally a goal among school districts, with the most popular choices being Arabic, Mandarin, and American Sign Language.

Brochure or newsletter printing of the 2018-19 curriculum will also include a personal finance class, a biomedical sciences program, a technology internship, and a lifeguard training course among the new programs.