Rob was the first of the kids to break out from attending a Catholic High School. He chose to attend Highland Park, a public high school a few miles from us. At the time, Highland had an established deaf program - for lack of a better word. I'm not sure of the specifics, but I do know one thing - they had an absolutely fantastic (hearing) deaf instructor named Chris Thiers. Among other classes and instruction, Chris set up a Theatre for the Deaf. It was a cast of players, both deaf and hearing, that put on a couple of productions every year.
Now, if you ever knew my brother, you know he liked the limelight. To speak metaphorically, he shined in the spotlight. It was part of his extrovert persona - he was a people person - and the stage was a good outlet for it. He loved it. One of the productions he starred in was a short of "The Gambler" by Kenny Rogers. I remember attending the performance with my mother and actually tearing up at the end. For me it was a moment of connection with the gifts of not only my deaf brother, but of the whole cast. The signing was beautiful and added a layer to the production that I'd never seen before. I was so stinkin' proud of my brother that I had to cry.
I also remember he practiced signing in time to the song as it played on his old phonograph, over and over and over. He obsessed about that song, even well after the production was over. As a music lover myself, I know this obsession. I can burn a song out in a few weeks, to the point where I'm sick of it. Despite playing it over and over, Rob never tired of that song. i think part of the obsession of it was the storyline behind the song. He did the same thing with Billy Joel's Piano Man, another song done by the Theatre for the Deaf. That song almost drove me to drink - to make love to my own tonic and gin - so to speak. Ha!
The rest of Rob's high school years are kind of a blur. Like any high schooler, he went to proms, hung out with his friends, and got his license. In a funny story, shortly after he got his license, he once tried to beg his way out of a speeding ticket by claiming he was deaf and couldn't hear the cop. The cop started writing out on a piece of paper that he was giving Rob a ticket for speeding and he was issued one just like anyone else. - Nice try, Rob!
The other funny story I remember from Rob in high school was when we were riding in an elderly neighbor's car, and Rob's hearing aid shrieked with feedback. The lady said "What was that?"
Rob and I both looked at her and said, "What was what?"
She said "That noise, didn't you hear it?"
"Nope, I didn't hear anything" I said, playing along with Rob's joke.
He then proceeded to do it a couple more times. She never did figure out what it was. I think she thought she was going nuts - like a dog whistle - that only she could hear or something. I remember hardly being able to keep a straight face.
So that was high school with Rob. It was his first exposure to deaf-assistive education. Because of their recognized deaf program, he was able to be among his peers and make some lifelong friends in the process. He would admit that he owed it all to the mentorship of Chris Thiers, his instructor who later became a lifelong friend. She is a beautiful person and a wonderful deaf advocate. She went on to continue teaching deaf and hard of hearing there for many years. The world needs more people like her.