As World Language Week wraps up at Hartland High School and Hartland Middle School this week, a new language and culture has been added to Hartland's curriculum which challenges the students to step outside their comfort zone and discover a different world.
For the first year, eighth grade students were given the option of an American Sign Language class taught by teacher Judy Parlett that will help fulfill a two-year Wold Language requirement.
The class also challenged twenty-four students while immersing themselves in a new world, helping them to learn and understand what it is like to be hard of hearing in a hearing world.
It's an experience that has helped shape their young worlds, according to Parlett and says she is proud of what her students have accomplished so far this year.
"The kids are on fire," Parlett said. "These kids are going to take this language and go places with it."
As the eighth graders move to the high school next year, they will be given the option of continuing their education by having a new ASL class offered at the high school level.
Some of the current students say they will be taking the elective as they have hopes of becoming interpreters or other careers where knowing the ASL language will better serve them in the future.
Eighth grader Jennifer Bauer says she has become "passionate" about the language and has also enjoyed taking her education further by attending Deaf Nights at BIGGBY Coffee in Hartland and even suggesting a classroom experiment that involved having her classmates wear ear plugs for a day.
It was an "eye-opening" experience for some of the young students who called the day "lonely" and "confusing" but also demonstrated to them what people who are hard of hearing experience on a daily basis.
"When you had friends who didn't know this whole experiment was going on, they just found you as rude because you weren't talking back because you didn't know they were talking to you," eighth grader Mackenzie Wilson said. "So when you think of a deaf or hard of hearing person in that situation, they are often thought to be rude and get a bunch of dirty looks and mean comments."