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Kindergartners Surprise Deaf Custodian on His Birthday

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Everybody deserves a happy birthday. In fact, there’s a song written with that very idea in mind.

It’s fair to assume you’ve heard this little ditty — probably multiple times. The “Happy Birthday” song is a staple of annual age-progression celebrations everywhere.

The Guinness Book of World Records has actually dubbed it one of the most popular tunes crooned in the English language.

In fact, according to USA Today, “Happy Birthday” has been sung in at least 143 movies. It’s also been translated into a minimum of 18 different dialects.

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Most kindergarteners can belt out all the lyrics from memory. The words aren’t hard, after all, merely hearty and heartfelt.

But there’s one language not every young grade-schooler knows firsthand. According to the website Start ASL, roughly 500,000 folks across the U.S. and Canada rely on this crucial form of communication daily.

It’s called American Sign Language. And recently, some Tennessee kindergarteners used these beautifully expressive gestures to make their janitor’s birthday extra-special.

Local Fox affiliate WZTV reported that these youngsters attend classes at Hickerson Elementary School, in the town of Tullahoma. They learned that their custodian, Mr. James, would soon celebrate his 60th birthday.

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Mr. James is deaf, and Hickerson Principal Jimmy Anderson told WZTV that the children absolutely adore him.

Anderson explained that the beloved janitor is a fantastic role model for his students. “Mr. James teaches the kids sign language every now and then, teaches them good manners and how to treat other people,” he said.

The kindly custodian has been with the school district for three decades. A full 15 of those years have been spent at Hickerson Elementary.

So the kids’ teachers and mentors decided they would help the youngsters deliver a birthday greeting Mr. James would never forget. Ms. Alyssa, Ms. Amy and Nurse Angela began secretly teaching the children how to sign the phrase “Happy Birthday.”

A now-viral WZTV video posted on Facebook illustrates the results of their labors. And let’s just say Mr. James was absolutely over the moon.

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The 30-second snippet shows him strolling into the classroom as the students really get rolling. They’re all singing aloud, as their hands and arms convey the affectionate message in unison.

Before the first chorus is even complete, Mr. James is clearly stunned and overjoyed. His huge grin is resonating with users all across social media, who have shared the video thousands of times.

The amiable janitor told WZTV that the kids’ thoughtful gesture “touched his heart.” And it continues to touch hearts and uplift spirits all over the world.

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Mary Bittel is a professional writer, marketer, and published author. She's produced content for several respected media organizations, and dozens of major industries including education, animal welfare, healthcare, finance, non-profit, technology, and entertainment. As an accomplished musician, she's also worked in a therapeutic teaching capacity with developmentally disabled children.
Mary Bittel is a professional writer, marketer, and published author. She's produced content for several respected media organizations, and dozens of major industries including education, animal welfare, healthcare, finance, non-profit, technology, and entertainment. As an accomplished musician, she's also worked in a therapeutic teaching capacity with developmentally disabled children. Additionally, she's an avid animal lover who has spent much of her life rehabilitating abused rescue canines.
Books Written
"The Hidden Treasury: Stories of Wonders and Wanderings"
Location
Illinois
Languages Spoken
English, French
Topics of Expertise
Music, Marketing, Nutrition, Fitness, Pet Care/Behavior, Cooking, Entertainment




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