Inspirational student shines positive message to campus


Travis Robertson

Sydney Larsen, freshman, performing a Sign Language dance to “This is Me” from “The Greatest Showman” on Feb. 23.

Travis Robertson, Copy Chief

OHS is filled to the brim with students of different backgrounds, demographics, and traits that give each student a truly unique story to tell. However, some students struggle to get their stories told because they’re afraid of showing their true self in fear that they won’t be accepted. One freshman has a voice and a story that could let other students be heard as well.

Sydney Larsen, freshman, is an outgoing student in Band, S.W.A.T, Basketball, and Track with one feature that makes her life more unique: she was born deaf. Larsen has a hearing aide to help and is fluent in both American Sign Language and English.

Larsen plays piano for Band and has incorporated ASL into her S.W.A.T project.

“I’m teaching ASL as part of my S.W.A.T project because I believe that it is mentally important to use your hands properly and not using them in a bad way,” Larsen said.

Being born deaf was challenging for Larsen in her early school years where people were harsh and unaccepting of her disability.

“A lot of people have been bringing me down, a lot of teachers in elementary school have brought me down, they shut my voice off because I was being too loud and I was disabled and didn’t know how to speak well,” Larsen said.

With these challenges in the past, Larsen used her knowledge of both ASL and English to entertain as well as inspire others.

“I decided to, after all the bullying that happened to me, put on a show. I do Sign at different events because many people believe in me, they know that I can send a powerful message that everybody needs to hear because not everyone understands what I’ve been through and not everyone understands what’s important about music and music is powerful,” Larsen said. “The challenges I’ve been through have helped me learn so much about myself and about friendship and trying to change who you are and become the person you were meant to be.”

An example of this is when she performed a Sign Language dance at the annual Gala on Feb. 23, to the song “This is Me” from the film “The Greatest Showman”.

“I chose the song ‘This is Me’ because I’m deaf, I don’t have control over my hearing I was just born this way, and a lot of people look down on me and they see me as a person that they shouldn’t be talking to because I have a disability,” Larsen said. “Just because I have a disability that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be able to talk to me, I’m friendly, I’m talkative. I just want to put a message out there and say ‘You know what, I am the person that I am and you should not be afraid of me at all’

Music has been a key factor for Larsen’s attitude and state of mind, as she emphasizes that “music is powerful” and everybody should understand its importance.

“Music has helped me calm down and get into the mood of competitions and the reason why I joined band was because it helped me set my mind into a calm tone. Everyday I listen to music, I’m a part of seminary and I play the piano there all the time and it’s just what helped me stay in the mood of being calm and thinking about who I am and not other parts of the world,” Larsen said.

The support from students, administration, and teachers has been integral to Larsen’s attitude as well, where she says OHS has provided enough support for her to succeed.

“Every teacher on this campus, they seem so friendly to me and I just love how the teachers support me and the different activities that I’m able to participate in and they see me as a person that’s willing to strive and be determined,” Larsen said.

Starting March 12, Larsen will be teaching ASL on Tuesdays during the first half of Eagle Hour in room 806. She believes the knowledge of ASL and other languages is academically crucial for students to understand.

“I believe that academics are very important because if you aren’t in school then how are you going to learn and get a job in the future? Same thing with American Sign Language and different languages as well, if you’re not able to learn these sort of things then you’re not going to be able to learn anything at all. This is why you’re in school, to learn, and to build friendships,” Larsen said.

After high school, Larsen hopes to play Basketball at BYU and become an ASL interpreter. One lesson Larsen has learned from her life and time at OHS that she wants to pass down is simply to let yourself shine. If you do that, then others will follow naturally.

“Not everyone sees who you are, because you have your own world and your own perspective. If you try to bring out what’s within you then other people will see you as who you are and do not be afraid to show your light to the world,” Larsen said.