St. Rocco students sing songs for Bishop Pilla

(Plain Press, June 2006) On Friday, May 19th students at St. Rocco School at 3205 Fulton Road performed several songs and a prayer in sign language for visiting Cleveland Catholic Diocese Bishop Anthony Pilla.

Cleveland Signstage Theatre actor/Artistic Director Bill Morgan, who taught the students sign language for this project, said he worked with the students once or twice a week for five weeks to prepare students for this performance. He says students pick up sign language faster than adults. In fact he says students would often point out if he forgot to sign a word or phrase. Morgan says Cleveland Signstage’s focus is the theatre arts, but it always integrates sign into its performances. Students learn the word for the songs or prayers, like they learn a script, then they learn signs for the songs. Morgan says he hopes funding will be available to allow him to return to St. Rocco’s School next year to work with the students again.

Bishop Pilla, who plans to retire soon, told the students “I am happy to see the result of your hard work.” He praised the students for “doing something I can’t do. You have learned to communicate with a very important population.” The bishop asked the students to “be good” and “do good.” He encouraged students to follow their dreams, “Don’t let anyone tell you can’t do anything, or be anything you want to be.”


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