UHS DHH program hosts its second pep assembly of the year


DHH students play a holiday-themed game of Minute to Win It with candy canes in front of their peers during the program’s second pep assembly of the school year. (A. Mehrotra)

Staff Writer
The Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH) Program held its second pep assembly of the year this past Thursday during Office Hours in the big theater.
The pep assembly, coordinated by the Junior National Association for the Deaf (JNAD) and the Associated Student Body (ASB) Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH) representatives Andrea Martinez (Sr.) and Gianna Wilson (Sr.), is meant to bring together the DHH community on campus to discuss upcoming events and celebrate the accomplishments of students.
“[The DHH ASB Representatives] host the DHH assembly,” DHH Counselor Joy Sarnowski (DHH Dept.) said. “They share information with the DHH students about what’s going on in the school and they help bridge that gap and make sure that all of our students are aware of what’s happening on our campus.”
Several students were recognized during the assembly, including winners of the Book Poster Contest and raffle winners of the successful Reading Counts Program. The students were given cash and Starbucks gift cards as prizes for their achievements.
The Reading Counts program is a specialized program to encourage DHH students to read more. 
“If you read a book, then go take a test on that book [and] pass that [test], then you get points [and a ticket which] you put… in a bucket,” Martinez said. “At the end, you earn prizes based on how many points you have.”
The program has seen great success in improving the literacy of DHH students.
“Regardless of what we teach in class, the most amount of success and improvement that we’ve seen is with students who read on their own,” Longo said.
The DHH program at UHS provides education to kids from 27 different school districts in Southern California who do not have their own program.
“We’re a model regional program for the country because there’s not a lot of other high schools that can put together this kind of critical mass of deaf and hard of hearing kids,” DHH Principal David Longo (DHH Dept.). “It offers us so many other opportunities to integrate all the special clubs and activities [for all students on campus].”
In addition to JNAD, there are several other programs for the DHH community, including the Reading Counts program, Close Up, Academic Bowl and athletic opportunities like the DHH basketball team and a DHH cheer squad.  
The UHS DHH program will be hosting the Academic Bowl in March of next year, in which 20 high schools from the Western United States will come to compete.
“We have an academic bowl decathlon team, we’re hosting it this year, there’ll be able 20 schools coming, and it’s a really big deal, Longo said. “We’ve always been competitive at the national level [and] we actually won one of the national championships in 2009.”