The story so far: Opal teaches her family "the secret code."

Today was a happy day! My brother and sister, hand-in-hand, walked to school. I was going too with Pa and Ma following close behind. I wasn't going back there to be one of their students. No, I was happy because today I was going to be their teacher — Teacher of the Secret Code!

Together, my family and I marched up the wooden steps to the one-room school house and entered the small crowded area. Parents stood up behind the kids who were seated at their desks. The teacher stood at the blackboard motioning me to come to the front.

Soon I was standing right up front with all eyes on me. I looked around the room. I wondered if they remembered the time I gave the boy with red hair and freckles a black eye or when I put gum in the hair of the girl with the long braids or the many other things I had done.

My heart pounded.

Pa winked at me. Ma smiled. My brother and sister sat up tall and proud. I took a deep breath and remembered when I stood in front of everyone at the Deaf School and how each one raised their hands in applause. I turned, chalk in hand, and wrote on the blackboard the sentences Pa had helped me with the night before:

I learned a Secret Code. Do you want to learn it too?

Then I wrote letters on a blackboard just like my teacher had done and I and showed them the hand shapes for each letter. I wrote down words and showed them how to sign each one. Everyone tried to copy me when I showed them a sign. It was fun for me to see how hard it was for some of them to make the hand shapes and move their eyes, noses and lips around. There were many giggles coming from old and young alike.

When I finished teaching I smiled at my audience and I bowed. What a surprise! They all raised their hands and shook them in applause. I wondered how they had learned how to do that ... until I saw my brother wink at me. I guess I wasn't the only one teaching the Secret Code.

I wonder if YOU will become a teacher of the Secret Code.

Next week: Pa tells his story of Opal

Author/Illustrator Janie Lancaster

Copyright Janie Lancaster

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