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ASL; elementary school; teachers; communication
Photo by CDC on Unsplash

Kids surprise deaf cafeteria worker by learning sign language.

Here at Upworthy, we try to bring you heartwarming stories, so when we came across this story by My Modern Met, we knew we had to share it.

Kids are always surprising adults with questions or new skills they've learned. Young students at Nansemond Parkway Elementary School in Suffolk, Virginia, wanted to be able to communicate with the cafeteria worker who served them breakfast and lunch everyday. So they learned how.

Leisa Duckwall is deaf and had been working at the school for four years serving the students and staff. Because Duckwall cannot hear, she and the students did the best they could to make it work, until a teacher had an idea. Kari Maskelony, who teaches fourth grade, spoke with Duckwall using American Sign Language (ASL) and noticed the cafeteria went silent.

Students watched in awe as the two women used their hands to communicate. Maskelony grew up in a family that was hard of hearing, so sign language was part of her life, according to My Modern Met. After seeing the reaction of students, Maskelony asked the kids if they would like to learn the language.


One in eight people aged 12 and older in the United States have hearing loss in both ears. Around the world there are more than 70 million people who use sign language to communicate, yet not many people outside of the deaf community know sign language. The lack of access to sign language from the hearing world makes moving through life more difficult for deaf people. While places like Starbucks and Disney are working to include ASL, it's not widely used by businesses.

Now this cafeteria worker may finally be able to communicate with the students that come through her line. According to My Modern Met, the principal got wind of what was happening and decided to make it a schoolwide effort, including having morning announcements via video that taught a new word in sign language weekly.

Duckwall told My Modern Met, “Not only is it great for the kids because they can learn a new skill that they can carry with them and actually use with other people that they meet,” she said, “but I think it (is) great because equal inclusivity and equal access is so important. It’s just something that we don’t often see.”

The elementary school posted a video of the children ordering lunch using ASL and people in the comments can't get enough of the exchange. Kimberly Duncan wrote, "I wish all schools taught asl! This is a great idea!" Cheyenne Smith said, "This touched my heart in a way like no other."

All of the comments under the video praised the teacher and the school for teaching the children such an amazing skill that they can carry with them outside of the elementary school walls.

If Duckwall had any doubt that her school cared about her experience there, she can now rest assured that her students worked hard to make sure they could communicate in a language she could understand. That's the sweetest gift these little ones could give.

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The last thing children should have to worry about is where their next meal will come from. But the unfortunate reality is food insecurity is all too common in this country.

In an effort to help combat this pressing issue, KFC is teaming up with Blessings in a Backpack to provide nearly 70,000 meals to families in need and spread holiday cheer along the way.

The KFC Sharemobile, a holiday-edition charitable food truck, will be making stops at schools in Chicago, Orlando, and Houston in December to share KFC family meals and special gifts for a few select families to address specific needs identified by their respective schools.

These cities were chosen based on the high level of food insecurity present in their communities and hardships they’ve faced, such as a devastating hurricane season in Florida and an unprecedented winter storm in Houston. In 2021, five million children across the US lived in food-insecure households, according to the USDA.

“Sharing a meal with family or friends is a special part of the holidays,” said Nick Chavez, CMO of KFC U.S. “Alongside our franchisees, we wanted to make that possible for even more families this holiday season.”

KFC will also be making a donation to Blessings in a Backpack, a nonprofit that works to provide weekend meals to school-aged children across America who might otherwise go hungry.

“The generous donations from KFC could not have come at a better time, as these communities have been particularly hard-hit this year with rising food costs, inflation and various natural disasters,” Erin Kerr, the CEO of Blessings in a Backpack, told Upworthy. “Because of KFC’s support, we’re able to spread holiday cheer by donating meals for hunger-free weekends and meet each community’s needs,” Kerr said.

This isn’t the first time KFC has worked with Blessings in a Backpack. The fried chicken chain has partnered with the nonprofit for the last six years, donating nearly $1 million dollars. KFC employees also volunteer weekly to package and provide meals to students in Louisville, Kentucky who need food over the weekend.

KFC franchisees are also bringing the Sharemobile concept to life in markets across the country through local food donations and other holiday giveback moments. Ampex Brands, a KFC franchisee based in Dallas, recently held its annual Day of Giving event and donated 11,000 meals to school children in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods.

If you’d like to get involved, you can make a donation to help feed students in need at kfc.com/kfcsharemobile. Every bit helps, but a donation of $150 helps feed a student on the weekends for an entire 38-week school year, and a donation as low as $4 will feed a child for a whole weekend.

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In 1969, “Abbey Road” was the last record the group made together, although “Let it Be,” recorded earlier that year, was released in 1970.

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Jack Black and Kyle Gass, collectively known as Tenacious D, recently reimagined two of the songs in the medley, "You Never Give Me Your Money" and "The End," for acoustic guitars for a performance on SiriusXM's Octane Channel. Like everything with Tenacious D, it showed off the duo’s impressive musical chops as well as their fantastic sense of humor.

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