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The Life of Helen Keller


Teacher Anne Sullivan (left) portrayed by 3rd grader Timbra Mansfield with Helen
Keller (center), portrayed by Abigail Vancil and other members of the cast.

DU QUOIN – The lives of Louis Braille, inventor of the braille system of reading and writing for the blind, and Helen Keller–immortalized in the time-honored play, “The Miracle Worker”, were brought to life for parents and friends of third graders at the Du Quoin Elementary School Friday.

An hour-long program authored by instructor Donna Davison and created by the students themselves was nothing short of inspiring.

The program began with a sign language presentation by students Gabrielle Alvarado, Carlie Daffron, Maggie Harris, Joshua Higgerson and Michelle VanZandt who spelled out “Welcome to Our Play” in sign language.

There was a section called the “Wax Museum” where biographies of the important characters in Helen Keller’s life were read by students Brittany Tudor, Hannah Marek, Alaina Caldwell, Antonio Aguiniga and Collin White.

Students Tucker Kuhnert, Aiden Porter and Morgan Nelson then explained how the Braille system of six raised dots allows the blind to read and write.

Louis Braille (January 4, 1809 – January 6, 1852) was the inventor of braille. Braille is read by passing the fingers over characters made up of an arrangement of one to six embossed points. He was also blind.

Braille was born near Paris, but he spent most of his childhood in Lisle. His father, Simon-René Braille, was a harness and saddle maker. At the age of three, Braille injured his left eye with a stitching awl from his father’s bedroom. This destroyed his left eye, and sympathetic ophthalmia may have led to loss of vision in his right – he was completely blind by age six.

At the age of ten, Braille earned a scholarship to the Institution Royale des Jeunes Aveugles in Paris, one of the first of its kind in the world. The scholarship was his ticket out of the usual fate for the blind, begging for money on the streets of Paris. Braille became a talented cellist and organist in his time at the school, playing the organ for churches all over the country of France. Continue

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