Middle Country Central School District honored 9/11 with a performance by their fifth grade class, who sign languaged to the song “God Bless America.”
Music teacher Rebecca Schaarschmidt overcame the digital divide that was created due to digital learning. The students have been practicing their sign language since the end of last year and were very excited to perform for their peers in the first, second, third and fourth grade on Friday, Sept. 10 at Oxhead Road School.
“It took them about three or four practices to really get it down,” Schaarschmidt said. “Then we picked it up again when school started, and really only had two days to pull the whole thing together.”
Making sure that all fifth graders were able to participate, Schaarschmidt combined students who were in person last year as well as the students who attended school virtually. She was able to teach the sign language both virtually and in-person.
“The students were very restricted last year, we had to be six-feet a part in order to sing together and we just didn’t have the space for that,” she said. “So, I was trying to think of a creative way to have the students be able to make music without using their voices which is why I decided to go ahead and teach them the sign language.”
Growing up in the Middle Country School District herself, Schaarschmidt remembers performing a 9/11 memorial with her choir during high school every year. Wanting to translate that tradition into the elementary school, she decided to teach the fifth graders how to perform.
“I think learning about 9/11 in schools is really important because it’s a part of our history,” she said. “These kids were not alive when it happened, so I wanted them to know what happened on that day and who the heroes were as well as who was able to help protect our country.”