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Student finds her own voice

Hearing-impaired 8th grader sings solo at graduation

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    Faith Dickerson, 15, accompanied by Ross Thompson of the Toledo School for the Arts, sings ‘School Is A Good Thing,’ an original composition she wrote, during her class graduation on Tuesday.

    <THE BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH
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n4deaf-1

Faith Dickerson, 15, accompanied by Ross Thompson of the Toledo School for the Arts, sings ‘School Is A Good Thing,’ an original composition she wrote, during her class graduation on Tuesday.

THE BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH
Enlarge | Buy This Image

Faith Dickerson, 15, sang in front of the crowd of eighth graders and their families on Tuesday at Toledo’s Oakdale Elementary School.

“I’ll admit school can be boring, but we need to learn if we want to be something,” she belted out.

It was a typical graduation, with blue and white balloons decorating the gymnasium — except Faith is hearing-impaired, and it was her first time singing solo in front of a large audience.

Faith has been severely hearing impaired since birth, but Oakdale is specially equipped to teach students like her. When she was first mainstreamed in fifth grade, she carried around a microphone connected to her hearing device for her teachers, and now a sign-language translator accompanies her to class.

“This is a baby they told me wasn’t going to do much of anything,” said Robbie Dickerson, Faith’s mother, as she described early surgeries and speech therapy. “She would probably only hear airplanes or extremely loud things.”

To help Faith learn new words, she placed the girl’s hand on her own throat to feel vibrations while her daughter read her lips.

“As a 3-year-old, talking wasn’t the easiest thing for her to do,” said Bonnie Corder, her pre-kindergarten teacher.

Yet Faith has been humming tunes to herself since that age, and she invents melodies whenever she has to memorize texts. Even so, it took her a long time to sing alone in front of anyone.

She sang a poem at church last year, and she performed a duet at the school talent show this year.

Though Glenda Biddlestone, Oakdale’s music teacher, said there are other deaf students at the school who enjoy singing, Faith is exceptional by most accounts.

School principal Tracy Knighten said he has never had a student, let alone a deaf one, sing a song she wrote at graduation during his eight years at Oakdale.

“I guess you could say I’m coming out of my shell,” Faith said.

Contact Maya Averbuch at: maverbuch@theblade.com or 419-724-6522.

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