Student wearing graduation gowns throw their graduation caps in the air.

The Kentucky School for the Deaf celebrated seven graduating students at a ceremony held at the school on May 19. Kentucky Commissioner of Education Jason E. Glass and Kentucky Board of Education Chair Lu S. Young were also in attendance. Photo by Marvin Young May 19, 2022.

The Kentucky School for the Deaf (KSD) celebrated its seven graduating students on May 19 at a graduation ceremony held at the school in Danville.

The 2022 KSD graduates are:

  • Cylee Barfield from Barren County. Barfield will be attending Gallaudet University in the fall;
  • Eliza Conley from Estill County. Conley will be joining the workforce;
  • Joseph Cox of Knox County. Cox will be joining the workforce;
  • Alex Fox of Hardin County. Fox will be attending Elizabethtown Community and Technical College in the fall;
  • Eric Gilbert of Mercer County. Gilbert will be going into the workforce;
  • Davis Jumara of Lincoln County. Jumara will be going into structured employment; and
  • Camerron McPherson of Jefferson County. McPherson will be attending Gallaudet University in the fall.

Kentucky Education Commissioner and Chief Learner Jason E. Glass and Kentucky Board of the Education Chair Lu S. Young were in attendance.

“I hope when you think back on your time at KSD, you have fond memories of friends, teachers, all of the staff here at school and that you will have learned math, science, social studies, reading, writing, and that you have learned to advocate for yourselves, to follow your passions and be your own unique person as you go out into the world,” said Young.

People stand in a doorway with a stained glass mural above the doorway.

Bentley White, left, smiles at Eliza Conley after the students unveiled the 200th anniversary commemorative stained-glass window they helped design. Photo by Marvin Young May 19, 2022.

200th anniversary commemorative stained-glass window

At the graduation ceremony, KSD unveiled the 200th anniversary commemorative stained-glass window designed and created by KSD students Eliza Conley, Bentley White and Kennedi Ballard. The students were assisted by KSD teachers Alex Meckes Heckert and Lee Alan Hanawalt Roher.

Senior Eliza Conley spoke at the unveiling about the rich history KSD has serving students throughout the Commonwealth of Kentucky and “their right to advocacy, equity and a high-quality education for the past 200 years.”

“When someone thinks of glass there is this aura of a need for protection and fragility surrounding it. Just like glass, equal access to education in a non-restrictive environment for Deaf and hard of hearing individuals must be nurtured and protected,” said Conley. “The institutions that we rely upon for education can be changed at any time – for better or for worse. We must do everything in our power to ensure that the institutions we rely upon can last for the next 200 years.”

The two panels of the stained glass contain various images of important pieces of KSD history.

The 1823 panel depicts John Kerr, the first superintendent of Kentucky School for the Deaf; an Old Colonel, the early rendition of the KSD mascot; the first school building; a farm for KSD’s agricultural history including vocational programs and student-operated farms; and John Blount, the first deaf teacher.

The 2023 panel depicts Jacobs Hall and Marshall Hall; American Sign Language; KSD desegregating in 1964; and the new KSD mascot.

“Just like the sense of accomplishment that we share regarding this work of art, we also share it about KSD itself,” said Conley. “Just as the glass is connected by hundreds of pieces, and can therefore be disassembled and separated; the connection that each piece has to the other makes it have meaning, if you take away some of the parts of the whole it is no longer whole and therefore cannot fulfil its full potential; just like an institution of education.”