Annual ASL performance leaves lasting impact on graduating seniors 


Rita Korail

ASL students gather around Mrs. Cooney for a pre-show pep talk before the doors open to the public.

Olivia Mendoza

As the new year turned the corner and Natalie Cooney returned to the classroom, the American Sign Language (ASL) program hit the ground running to focus on their new goal in sight: the ASL Variety Show. Hosted every spring, the 16th annual performance set the stage on April 15th, where ASL 3 and 4 students had the opportunity to showcase their skills while performing songs that fit the year’s theme of the ‘Good Old Days’. 

With months of preparation leading to opening night, students spent their time hand selecting songs that resonated most with the chosen theme. Hours were spent translating songs, a process in which students compare lyrics to the language of ASL to tell a story that visually flows to its intended audience. 

“We had a lot of practice and dedication,” ASL 4 student Leila Kuvshinova said. “We practiced the songs at home and as the show got closer we started having after school practices. For two weeks we got excused on Thursday’s and Friday’s to practice all day.” 

The night before the show, more than 300 tickets were sold, an increase of more than 100 tickets from last year’s performance. 

As the curtains opened, the program signed a total of 17 songs ranging from the works of Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” and Cee-Lo Green’s “Forget You” to Jack Johnson’s “Banana Pancakes” and “Almost There” from the Disney movie Princess and the Frog

The performance brought many cheers and laughs to the crowd and overall proved to be a success even with all of the uncertainty of the show even being produced in the first place. 

“I did feel some pressure but it was the satisfaction of the class proving those who thought we couldn’t do it wrong that kept me going,” senior ASL 4 student Parker Nevarez-Contreras said. “Everyone was growing tired of the songs but kept pulling through to put on the best show possible.”

One of the most memorable moments has been, and will continue to be the performance of the senior song. This year, the class of 2023 chose to perform the song “Good Old Days” by Macklemore and Kesha. 

“It’s simple. There’s no theatrics. There’s no going back and forth. It’s just them signing and that’s what it’s all about,” ASL teacher Natalie Cooney said. “Honestly we could just get rid of everything else and just do the senior song and I’d be happy. We have a slideshow with baby pictures in the background and the parents tear up and the parents cry. It’s good because it’s a culmination of their experience here at Ayala and in our program.” 

The end date to the school year for the graduating class is quickly approaching, and with that comes the sentimental value of looking back at what this program has offered its students. 

“ASL has really been such a positive experience in my high school career. Despite all of that we have been through with over three different teachers, I had a great experience and learned so much with what we did have,” Kuvshinova said. “I learned how to be patient and thankful.”