QHS junior immerses herself in sign language
Quincy High School junior Loran Goninan has been chosen as one of 48 students from across the country to attend a special American Sign Language total immersion program this summer at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C.
For the 16-year-old who has been studying ASL for four years, the accomplishment comes after much hard work and dedication.
“I am proud of Loran for pursuing her Gallaudet University dream with such determination,” said Amanda Doncaster, ASL teacher at QHS. “A second-year student wouldn’t normally be capable of achieving enough fluency in the language to be interviewed and accepted by Gallaudet for their summer immersion program.
“But Loran has dedicated her personal time and energy to learning as much ASL as possible since she was first exposed to it when she was very young. By going directly to Gallaudet in Washington, D.C., she has shown an incredible amount of drive to be part of deaf culture and to contribute.”
While Goninan is enrolled in only her second year of ASL at the high school, she has been taking private ASL lessons from Doncaster for three years. Goninan, who would like to be an ASL teacher herself, has been in the ASL Club for three years.
Goninan learned of the total immersion program in the eighth grade, when Doncaster gave her a flyer about it. Because she was too young for the program, she tucked it away.
“I found the flyer just before Christmas when I was cleaning out my desk drawer,” Goninan said. “I was questioning whether that program was still available for me or not.”
Goninan applied soon after finding the flier; she was chosen in February.
“My parents were excited when they found out I was selected,” Goninan said. “It’s also kind of scary to let your child travel across the country.”
Students chosen for the immersion program can be hearing, deaf or hard of hearing. The program is a two-week long camp starting June 25. Participants in the program must use sign language only – on and off campus.
The program takes this very seriously. If someone is caught talking, they receive a warning for the first offense. After that, they may be asked to leave the program.
“You are not allowed to talk at all, including in your dorm room,” Goninan said. “They want you to have the whole experience.”
Students will attend ASL classes daily and then attend scheduled activities. At the end of the program, the hope is that the 48 students come out more proficient in ASL and have the skills needed to translate.
The full immersion program will be challenging, but Goninan is ready for the challenge. And her selection wouldn’t have been possible without Doncaster’s mentorship and support, Goninan said.
“After years spent working toward this goal, she is ready for the challenge,” Doncaster added. “Her future at Gallaudet has just begun by her acceptance into this program and she’s now uniquely poised for further exceptional accomplishments.”