KSDE Weekly

Upcoming Events, Trainings and Recognition

KSD graduate: Deaf people can do anything - even ride bulls

KSD graduate: Deaf people can do anything - even ride bulls

Angel Lira knows anything is possible. 

The 18-year-old graduated from Kansas School for the Deaf on Wednesday, May 25. 

Lira has been hard of hearing since his birth, he said through a KSD interpreter, Megan Edwards. He was born in California and moved with his family to Kansas to attend KSD. Prior to that, he attended public schools in California. He was already in the eighth grade by that time and had struggled in public school. 

“Coming here was such a culture shock,” he said. “I thought I was the only deaf person on the planet at one point. To find out I wasn’t was such a unique experience. I had access to everything. I made so much progress.” 

When he first moved to Kansas, Lira only knew a few signs through American Sign Language (ASL). He communicated with his family mostly through spoken English. Lira is a twin. His twin brother, Joe, isn’t deaf or hard of hearing. Neither are his other two brothers, Carlos and Sam. However, one of his aunts is deaf, and so are a few other family members, he said. 

“I felt so lucky to come to KSD,” he said. “If it hadn’t been for this school, I think I would have just sat there and not have gotten the education I’ve acquired.” 

His signing capabilities through ASL were at the kindergarten level when he first started at KSD. However, with help and practice, Lira picked it up quickly. “I really started to soar from there,” he said. “KSD - they have given me so many opportunities. They want to see every deaf and hard-of-hearing child succeed. Here at the deaf school, they are in full support of our future.” 

Lira stayed on the KSD campus while attending school. He became active in sports, such as basketball and powerlifting. His senior year, he was elected as secretary of the KSD student council. 

“If you have a deaf or hard-of-hearing child, do your research,” Lira said. “Look for state resources. Look online. If you see that your child has restrictions, stand up for your kid. You are going to have to be their advocate and show them they can do anything. Don’t sit back quietly because a lot of kids will give up. We have to fight for our deaf and hard-of-hearing children.” 

He will continue to live in the area and attend the KSD Kansas Student Transition and Academic Readiness (K-STAR) program, which serves young deaf adults ages 18-21. K-STAR offers specialized programming for students who have completed the requirements necessary for obtaining their high school diploma. The program’s curriculum is transition-focused with community-based work instruction. It supports students in the following areas – independent living, career employment and college/technical training. 

During the program, students build unique daily schedules to meet their individual needs. 

While attending the K-STAR program, Lira will live in an apartment and take driver’s education. He also plans to obtain his welding certificate and go to college. 

Lira recently sustained a back injury participating in weightlifting. If that heals properly, Lira wants to take up bull riding – something he’s been doing for the past eight years. 

“I started riding – and I love the rodeo,” Lira said. “I’ve been doing the rodeo since I was little and have been pretty successful. Right now, I’m focusing on my health. But I would like to be the first successful deaf bull rider. Deaf people can do anything from riding bulls to playing basketball and football. In fact, I wish people would understand deaf people in general - to help provide equality to everyone. We are all human.” 

Posted: May 25, 2023,
Comments: 0,
Author: Ann Bush

Theme picker

Copyright 2024 by Kansas State Department of Education | 900 SW Jackson St. | Topeka, KS 66612 Privacy Statement  |  Terms Of Use  |  System Maintenance Notices  |  Open Records (PDF)

The Kansas State Department of Education does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability, or age in its programs and activities. (more information...)

To accommodate people with disabilities, on request, auxiliary aides and services will be provided and reasonable modifications to policies and programs will be made. To request accommodations or for more information please contact the Office of General Counsel at gc@ksde.org or by 785-296-3201.