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Signing contest helps express feelings
Standing in front of guests and judges in the Glynn Academy Auditorium Thursday, Dominic Nicole Futch gave an entire speech without ever making a sound.

Just by using her hands, the Glynn Academy student captivated her audience with a speech in sign language on why her voice was important.

It was the theme of the annual competition sponsored by the St. Simons Island Optimist Club that brought her and other deaf and hearing-impaired students from Needwood Middle School, Jane Macon Middle School, Glynn Academy and Brunswick High School to the auditorium on Mansfield Street.

Sharon Cacase, event organizer and teacher for hearing impaired students at Glynn Academy, says it's an important opportunity for students, who have a chance to win money for college.

"We do this competition because it gives these kids a chance to express their feelings and talk about themselves, especially in this year's theme of 'Why My Voice Is Important,'" Cacase said. "If they win this competition here, they'll go on to the state level, held in Warner Robbins, where they can win a $2,500 college scholarship."

Students were given four to five minutes each to deliver their speeches before a panel of judges and certified interpreters.

The event included performances by the Sterling Elementary School's American Sign Language Club, which presented "Reach Out and Touch" choreographed to music, and the Glynn Academy ASL Club, which performed the Katy Perry song, "Part of Me."

Cacase has been part of the event since 2002 and has seen its benefits.

"For my deaf students, particularly, English is a problem. But when they get engaged and have to focus on themselves, like in this competition, it really helps them work on those language skills," she said.

Cacase says it's a very great confidence boost for participants.

"I think it really builds a lot of self-esteem and really gives the students a chance to think about their feelings, which oftentimes teenagers don't zoom in on," she said. "They get a chance to think about what's important to them and they feel very satisfied after they've met the challenge of getting up and sharing their speech."

* Reporter Sarah Lundgren writes about education and other local topics. Contact her at or at 265-8320, ext. 322.

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