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Sign-language students to join 'Our Town' performance

If you use sign language to communicate and would enjoy watching the classic American play "Our Town," San Clemente High School students have a treat for you this week.

Select students in the school's sign-language class have memorized the play and will be on hand to interpret it for the audience Thursday when the drama department presents Thornton Wilder's Pulitzer Prize-winning drama about life in a New Hampshire town in the early 1900s. Thursday is one of four nights the play will appear at the school this week. It opens Wednesday.

Teacher Andrea Buckman invited the most experienced students in the class for the live performance.

"San Clemente High School gave all of us a unique opportunity by offering American Sign Language as part of its curriculum," the students said in a collective statement. "As a group, we have spent between three and four years learning sign together. Our sign-language class has truly become a family. We definitely have some ups and downs, but mostly we have each other. Interpreting this play, 'Our Town,' has tested not only our sign skills but also our loyalty to each other."

We asked the students who will perform Thursday about sign. Here are their answers, forwarded through publicity volunteer Teri Steel:

Q. Is "Our Town" the first production the class has presented in sign?

A. "Our Town" is the first for this class specifically. But other classes through the years have interpreted performances at SCHS.

Q. What does it take to convert an entire script?

A. A very dedicated teacher and lots of time.

Q. How long have you had to work on it?

A. We have been working on it for about a month trying to get it right.

Q. How hard is it to learn sign?

A. Learning sign is more time-consuming and practice than difficult.

Q. How is doing a play different than the rest of your curriculum?

A. It takes lots of memorizing.

Q. Why did you sign up for the class?

A. Sign seemed like a good opportunity for our lives.

Q. Have you done other projects in the community?

A. We sign for the graduation and all other important school functions.

Q. How will you apply sign language to your lives after high school?

A. Some of us plan to further study sign, as well as using it to interpret throughout our lives. For most of us, this is our last year doing sign language at the high school.

Q. How do people react when you suddenly start communicating in sign?

A. People usually react in a positive manner and find it very interesting.

Contact the writer: or 949-492-5127

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