GREAT FALLS — The countdown to Christmas is on and the students residing at the Montana School for the Deaf and the Blind took part in their spirited tradition.
The student group ‘Expressions of Silence' are hard of hearing, and rocked along to a number of Christmas classics using sign language.
The group ‘Flying Hooves' are students interested in theater. A play was put on with aides reciting the lines from off-stage while the students signed along to the dialogue.
Students at MSDB are treated to the same public school curriculum and a number of engaging extracurriculars, including go-ball, a form of dodgeball recognized by the Paralympics, swimming, music, theater, and art.
“We are raising the expectation of our students here, and what we want out of them, because we know our students can give so much,” says Paul Furthmyre, Superintendent at MSDB.
Currently the school educates around 1200 students, with roughly 1100 of those being taught through outreach programs in every corner of Montana. Nearly every county in the state is represented with one or more students.
“We are no different than any public school,” says Furthmyre. “We try to mirror the Great Falls public school and run 180 days, because we do have students enrolled in public schools.”
The school employs speech-language pathologists, audiologists, orientation-mobility specialists, interpreters and many more to provide an all-inclusive educational experience.
Currently, the school is looking for help raising money for an all-new stage. A stage that can not only be used for performances but also one graduates can walk across when they receive their diploma. It’s currently not wheelchair accessible. A new stage will cost just over $83,000 and MSDB is in need of about $55,000 more. A donor issued a matching gift challenge up to $20,000 before December 31.
The school is also looking for volunteers who wish to be part of a special project dubbed the ‘Portrait of the Graduate’. Starting January 23rd, MSDB will recruit crowd-based sourcing to better understand what skills and aptitudes the student body requires in order to not only graduate on time, but also succeed in life and in a career.
For more information you can call the school at 406-771-6143.