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Township cites DeMasi drama students and staff

Special to The Sun
Students from DeMasi Middle School’s drama club at a recent council meeting. The program’s participants and staff have doubled since the club began in 2016.

Evesham Township council presented a proclamation at its May 8 meeting to the DeMasi Middle School drama club, acknowledging the group’s continued growth since it began.

The Dolphin Drama Club started in 2016 and its first musicial, “Seussical Jr.” was performed two years later. The program’s participants and staff members have doubled since inception. “Into The Woods Jr.” – the club’s fifth full-scale musical – was performed in March with 80 students involved on and off stage.

The council meeting featured a performance by club members of the song “Children Will Listen,” from the finale of “Into The Woods Jr.” It included each student simultaneously singing both verbally and in American Sign Language.

“One of the reasons why I wanted to invite them here is because of the sign language you did at the end of the show,” Mayor Jackie Veasy noted. “I was very impressed and moved.”

Veasy also highlighted the club’s performance as an example of ways to make people aware of deaf culture and support equal access opportunities for those who can’t hear and those hard of hearing.

“I just want to say congratulations to all of you,” the mayor added. “I did see the show and it was wonderful. You all did great. I look forward to the next year’s show and all the years to come.

“Congratulations, you guys did a beautiful job.”

Veasy presented certificates of achievement to Kristina Black and Chris Nigro. Black is a teacher of the deaf in the Lenape Regional High School District and worked with the drama students on their initial training to incorporate sign language into their performances. Her daughter Annabelle is also one of the show’ performers.

Nigro is a longtime advocate for deaf and hard-of-hearing awareness and currently serves on both the township’s Disability and Veterans Affairs Advisory Committee and the Human Rights Advisory Committee. Nigro described the steps individuals can take to better communicate with those who identify as deaf or hard of hearing.

“The biggest thing to be aware of is making sure that whoever you’re speaking to can read your lips, and you’re not mumbling,” he explained. “(Also) making sure nothing (is) obstructing the view of your mouth.”

The next council meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Wednesday, June 12, at 984 Tuckerton Road.

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