GREAT FALLS — On Sunday a group of 13 blind and deaf students performed a collection of Christmas songs they've been perfecting for the past four months at the Montana School for the Deaf and Blind’s annual "Expressions of Silence" concert.
For decades, students at the school have been captivating crowds through signs and song.
Student Performer Brandon Arensmeyer shared how he and his fellow performers express themselves through silence. “It’s like our own special thing. It’s our own culture and we like to share it with everybody,” Arensmeyer said.
Program Director Jennifer Wasson said these performers have taken the stage all over the country. “We’ve performed for the legislature before. We’ve traveled out of state to Washington D.C., to Salt Lake City...we’ve performed for a variety of audiences,” Wasson said.
The performers range from 5th to 12th grade, many of whom have been expressing themselves onstage for years.
Arensmeyer and his classmate Traci Smith have participated in the annual christmas performance for 8 years now. “We always get better I think...we’re very excited. We always enjoy performing in front of all of our family and friends and just supporters,” Arensmeyer said.
Wasson said the students’ outward expression of joy showed onstage. “The kids love doing what they do and it shows in their performances,” Wasson said.
In addition to feeling joy within himself, Arensmeyer said he loves spreading joy to others. “Our favorite parts are probably going out and seeing all the different people and bringing joy to everyone,” Arensmeyer said.
The joy the students evoke in their audience also radiated from their teachers. “We’re very proud of them. It’s great because you really watch the kids grow. They come out of their shells and they have a lot of self-confidence onstage...They’re very capable individuals,” Wasson said.
These students are not done sharing their silence with the community. They will have other performances like today’s throughout the school year. “The kids practice all year long and do a variety of programs throughout the year,” Wasson said.
You can find more information about the school and their upcoming events here.