Senior Experience: Signing through his foreign language

PHS senior who wants to savor final year sees Yavapai College sign language course as more than credit

PHS senior Kody Jones presents his script in the American Sign Language class he's taking at Yavapai College to fulfill his foreign language requirement. (Nanci Hutson/Courier)

PHS senior Kody Jones presents his script in the American Sign Language class he's taking at Yavapai College to fulfill his foreign language requirement. (Nanci Hutson/Courier)

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This story is part of the 'Senior Experience' series by Daily Courier Reporter Nanci Hutson

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PHS senior Kody Jones tries out a new sign in class. (Nanci Hutson/Courier)

Prescott High School senior Kody Jones needs a foreign language credit to graduate.

To accommodate his class and athletics schedule, Kody opted to enroll in a year-long American Sign Language class at Yavapai College. His mother, Karen, who works in the administration office, encouraged that choice over his other options of two back-to-back semesters of Spanish, or an online foreign language course.

With this option, the scholar/athlete spends two hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays after his regular school day learning about this one brand of sign language for the deaf and hearing-impaired.

One PHS senior perk is the ability to schedule classes so they can leave by noon. Kody’s need for this course, as well as taking a basketball class after the lunch period, requires he endure a couple longer days. The ASL class is from 3:15 to 4:55 p.m.

The good-natured, charismatic teen doesn’t balk. Kody said he considers this exchange a great way to get the credit he needs in a more advanced, college setting that will be certain to look good on his upcoming college applications. This is also not the first time he has taken a college class for high school credit: he took business management courses his freshman and sophomore years and is now taking college-level Algebra at PHS as a dual enrollment course.

Beyond earning credit, Kody said he also appreciates the chance to learn something different, a skill he hopes will prove a benefit in his future interactions with people in the world beyond Prescott.

In his class last week, Kody took one of his first quizzes in hand signs. He then wrote a short script that he had to deliver all in sign language. The assignment was to describe one of his friends so he signed the color of his shirt, his hobbies, and motioned how his friend can do a back flip in the swimming pool. He opted to go first. His professor, Marissa Martian, congratulated his effort on mostly proper use of the signals. He has hopes by the end of the course he will be fluent enough to converse with a deaf person.

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PHS senior Kody Jones

On Oct. 26, Kody will be delivering his first research presentation on a famous deaf person. His assignment is on Irving King Jordan, the first deaf American college president.

“This will totally help me,” Kody said, noting he never realized the extent of the deaf community and how many different languages there are to help communicate with those who are so impaired. “I’m really enjoying it,” Kody said. “I think I made the best choice possible.”

Kody’s adjunct professor, Marissa Martian, said he is performing “pretty well” and clearly is a student unafraid to tackle whatever comes his way.

“He’s a leader with the other high school students. He’s very funny and personable, and he’s fun to have in class,” Martian said.

At the same time Kody is balancing a full load of classes, he is also preparing for varsity basketball try-outs that begin on Oct. 31; he has played all four years with sights of playing when he gets to college.

“I’m super excited,” Kody said of the upcoming basketball season. “I’ve really been trying to get in shape,” Kody said, noting he has slimmed down from 247 pounds last year to 184 pounds.

He suggests that this year’s potential team could be on of Prescott’s best ever.

Kody, too, is soaking up the social scene. As he has since he arrived at PHS, Kody has participated in participate in every Homecoming Week event. When not playing sports, he is cheering on his PHS peers in their various sports.

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Kody Jones, right, and his adjunct professor Marissa Martian. (Nanci Hutson/Courier)

“In six months, high school will be over. That’s a crazy thing,” said the Prescott native.

So Kody makes no bones about it. He intends to make choices, academically, socially, and athletically, that will position him well for the future.

And he has no intention of spending the time before his graduation in the shadows – he just dyed his hair coiffed into thick strands on top with razor sharp sides an eye-catching blond.

“I think it’s cool,” Kody said with a sly smile, admitting it was not a parent-endorsed look. “It shows I’m a creative guy who kind of likes attention a little bit.”

Follow Nanci Hutson on Twitter @HutsonNanci. Reach her at 928-445-3333, ext. 2041.

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