National Geographic : 1955 Mar
397 National Geographic Photographer Bates Littlehales Principal and Mrs. Pratt Treat Middle School Youngsters to a Popcorn Party When Lynn Pratt (glasses, left) was one year old, her parents discovered she was deaf. At five they enrolled her at Clarke. Her teacher-father became Clarke's principal a short time later (page 387). The Pratts frequently entertain pupils at their campus home. Tommy Pratt (beside father) attends regular school. "threshold of pain" and hurt the pupil's ears. After a year's trial with the most severely deaf children, Clarke School discarded its former group hearing aids and installed this new equipment in each of its 20 classrooms. Parents of Clarke School pupils belong to every walk of life, and requirements for ad mission are simple: that the child be healthy, sufficiently mature to go to school, and deaf enough. The school gives preference to Mas sachusetts children, and the State pays their tuition. Only 15 percent of children now at Clarke became deaf from diseases. A generation ago 25 percent had been suddenly plunged by ill ness into a silent world. This heartening example of medical prog ress is due chiefly to the disappearance of the dreaded mastoiditis. New drugs have eliminated much of the deafness resulting from scarlet fever, mumps, and other such common diseases. They have also lessened the severity of attacks by meningitis, though this disease is still a major cause of deafness. Because childhood's enemies are being con quered, Clarke is gearing itself more and more to meet the school's most difficult educational challenge-the baby born profoundly deaf. Every visitor to the school senses there a ceaseless quest by teachers and researchers for the elusive "something" that will allow deaf children to talk easily. Meanwhile, Clarke reaches out to bring the blessing of speech to boys and girls like 10-year-old Lynn Pratt, whose command of spoken language is one of the greatest achievements in the world.