Deaf Leopards, of the Arkansas School for the Deaf, Meet Def Leppard

By Madeline Will — May 12, 2016 2 min read
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Thanks to a social media campaign, the Deaf Leopards got to meet their famous ‘cousin,’ in name at least: Def Leppard.

The Leopards are the mascot for the Arkansas School for the Deaf, a public school in Little Rock that serves deaf and hard of hearing children from preschool through high school. Def Leppard is, of course, the British rock band with hits like “Pour Some Sugar on Me” and “Photograph.”

When Cary Tyson, a program officer at the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute, found out that the rock band was playing in Little Rock, he immediately saw an opportunity to bring attention to a “school that deserves it and does great work,” he wrote on a petition. The petition called for Def Leppard to come to the school and take a picture in front of the scoreboard. Tyson and his supporters also tweeted at the band.

The petition had gathered just shy of 1,500 signatures by Monday, when Tyson posted an update that while the band members didn’t have time in their schedule to go to the school, they would take a picture with a selection of students and a large replica of the school’s scoreboard at the concert venue.

So, on Wednesday, the Deaf Leopards got to meet Def Leppard.

The Arkansas School for the Deaf has used the Leopards as a mascot since at least 1941, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported, well before Def Leppard formed in 1977. Still, the similarity in the names has been a running joke for years.

“We’re so proud for anyone to shine a light on our school, on deaf education and on the work we do here,” Stacey Tatera, spokeswoman for the school, told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. She called the meet and greet a “tribute to the power of social media.”

As Tyson wrote in a petition update, this isn’t the first time a famous musician made headlines for his involvement with deaf students. In 1984, Prince played a free concert at Gallaudet University in Washington, one of the largest deaf universities in the country. The concert had been kept under wraps until the last minute.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.