SSDHHC celebrates 10 years

Posted by Jesse Barkey on May 9, 2019 in News
Hannah Hart, left, interpreter for Scranton School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, signs what James May, regional press director of PennDOT says as he emcees the gala. – Ben Freda | For Abington Journal

CLARKS SUMMIT — The Scranton School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children celebrated its 10th anniversary with a gala at Constantino’s Catering & Events May 3. Employees and sponsors enjoyed a dinner in the grand ballroom and a silent auction in the venue’s outdoor space.

Nora Foley, a sign language interpreter for Interpretek, a service company for American sign language in Bloomsburg and a silver sponsor of the gala, works as a contractor at the school.

“I go to the school every day,” she said. “It’s really a nice place to work. I love it there. I call it the ‘land of rainbows and butterflies’.”

The Scranton School is growing and thriving with state-of-the-art technology and currently has doc cams (visual cameras), along with smart panels.

“It’s a tremendous feeling to know we’ve been going on 10 years strong and thriving,” said Steve Farmer, CEO of Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf (WPSD), an umbrella organization of the school. “Ten years ago, before we founded the school, we had many naysayers. We’ve proved so many people wrong and now the school’s future is bright.”

James May, regional press director for PennDOT, served as emcee for the night. May recalled the Scranton School building when it was Lourdesmont, an all-girl high school and said he was recently given a tour of the building. He admitted that, even during the tour, he didn’t really see the school.

“I say that because the Scranton School is much more than just a building,” he said. “The Scranton School is a staff. It’s the children. It’s the people that make up the ministry that takes place there.”

Don Rhoten, who founded the Scranton School with his wife Cathy, also said a few words. Currently retired, he recalled bringing the idea of a school for hearing-impaired students to Northeast PA. During that time, Rhoten was the CEO of the Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf (WPSD) in Pittsburgh. He mentioned that no one in northeast PA liked the idea at first.

“Back then, no one trusted us in northeast Pennsylvania,” he said. “They hated our guts. The newspapers, the TV studios. Thank heavens there wasn’t Facebook back then. There wasn’t Twitter back then.”

Rhoten credited Scranton resident John Cosgrove for introducing WPSD to Northeast PA with his public relations firm.

“It’s really remarkable how the Scranton School has stuck to the mission for a full decade now,” said Cosgrove. “It was then and is now all about putting kids first.”

Gala attendees were entertained by an open buffet and a magic show. Illusionist Tom Coverly provided magic and humor to the gala. Using members of the audience, he performed a sword-to-the-neck trick. He also mysteriously planted a coin inside a soda bottle. The event concluded with a video showing young students of the Scranton School signing to “This Is Me” from “The Greatest Showman.”

This article is published on May 7, 2019 in The Abington Journal

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