Oklahoma School for the Deaf: ’This class will prevail’

Staff Writer
The Daily Ardmoreite
Oklahoma School for the Deaf senior Jacey Pawpa goes for the layup in hopes of scoring a basket for her fellow Indians in January. Pawpa is among others in the class of 2020 that missed several traditional events experienced by other graduating classes.

At the Oklahoma School for the Deaf in Sulphur, many seniors had their last year of high school interrupted by the global pandemic. They also missed out on a successful track season, prom, and a senior trip.

“I missed out on interacting with my classmates and teachers,” said Alex Gonzalez. “I wanted to see everyone as much as possible before I graduated. I am not able to say goodbye to anyone, my dorm, or even my locker. I also didn’t get to have a prom or senior trip. My classmates and I talked about that vacation nonstop for months, but now it will never happen. All of that makes me very sad.”

Jacey Pawpa has attended OSD since the first grade and is a three-sport athlete. She is from Shawnee and plays volleyball, basketball, and runs track. She has been playing those sports since her sophomore year of high school.

“I like playing volleyball because I’ve made so many friends that I never would have met if it weren’t for it,” said Pawpa. “I dig track, because I like being outside and enjoying the nice weather. What’s cool about basketball is that my whole family has played it too, so I’m carrying on the tradition.”

Pawpa said she is bummed about her final year at OSD being cut short.

“The COVID-19 cancelled my senior track season,” Pawpa said. “It’s frustrating, because I’ll never be able to feel those moments of excitement and happiness from track and just being at school in general ever again.”

The Oklahoma School for the Deaf has helped many kids with their education and enabled them to graduate high school. Just as with any other school, the teachers and staff are dedicated to their students and want to support them however they can. For that, Pawpa is thankful.

“Without OSD, I may have not received the right assistance in my education,” Pawpa said. “I appreciate Jamie Wilson, English teacher, because she always helped me when I was sad or upset. She’s the only one person that I need to talk with to make me feel better. I’m grateful for her for helping me with everything.”

Jamie Wilson is an English teacher at OSD and has made unbreakable connections with her students. She has been there for twenty-five years.

“I have always believed in being there for my students inside and outside of my classroom, no matter what their issues or problems may be,” Wilson said. “Jacey and I have developed a bond and a special relationship that she could always count on. With all of my life experiences as a deaf person and having a daughter that can hear who’s Native American, I like to believe that I’ve taught Jacey all of the coping skills that she has needed in life.”

“I guess with that alone, Jacey developed a strong trust in me early on, and she knew she could always come to me with anything she needed,” Wilson said. “Jacey knew she could depend on me for advice, comfort, and love. I have always shown great pride in her whether it’s in academics or sports. She knew I was always her cheerleader on the sidelines encouraging her through her trials and tribulations. From all of those experiences, and bonding times, our special friendship was then formed for life. I’m proud to call her my former student and now my friend.”

Levi Mathis has been at OSD for six years. He is the athletic director, math teacher, and a coach for the junior high basketball and track teams. He is sad that the OSD seniors didn’t get to properly finish their final year of high school.

“It’s very disappointing for the 2020 senior class,” Mathis said. “This group of kids has worked hard all year. They were all united in one goal - to win championships in all sports from football, volleyball, basketball, and track. They will not have the opportunity now to finish that goal. I know this class will prevail and be successful in the future, but I also know that they will look back on missing out on the end of their season as a missed opportunity to sweep the 2019-2020 year.”

Emily Cavello played volleyball, basketball, cheered, and ran track in high school. She is focused on staying strong because her senior year got cut short by the coronavirus.

“I missed out on a lot of things, such as track season,” Cavello said. “I was excited and ready to go compete in the Berger-Seeger Classic, the Great Plains Conference, and regional track. That was my dream for a long time. I worked hard for that opportunity to go. When I was told there would be no senior track tournaments, senior trips, senior walks, or prom, I was deeply devastated. I lost a lot of sleep over it. I miss my friends and teachers and seeing them every day. I miss sports mostly - I can’t live without them. I have been frustrated, stressed out, and emotional, but I had to tell myself to stay positive, because there wasn’t much I could do. I just pushed myself to finish what was needed in order to graduate. I still keep thinking about this year’s track season and how I lost my last year of it. I’ll always remember that. The only thing I will not miss out on is graduation and I am thankful for that.”