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First Deaf graduate from North Country Heavy Equipment School

Graduating with his CDL was a goal Hunter Flower set for himself years ago.
Published: Jul. 2, 2020 at 3:59 PM EDT
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ESCANABA, Mich. (WLUC) - North Country Heavy Equipment School holds several CDL classes every year. But this last class made history for the school.

“This is the first time in 22 years that we’ve ever had a completely Deaf student come through,” said Josh Barron, Director of the North Country Heavy Equipment School.

Graduating with his CDL was a goal Hunter Flower set for himself years ago.

“When I was little, my dad and I went to work, and I saw the excavator and I knew this was what I wanted to do when I was very small,” said Hunter Flower, graduate of North Country Heavy Equipment School.

His instructor says that being Deaf never stopped Hunter.

“Right from the start I seen how he was so anxious to learn. I knew it was going to be just fine. And he did great,” said Emil LaFave, Instructor at North Country Heavy Equipment School.

The communication barrier was something that the instructors had to adapt to. The school director says he had to learn to use more gestures instead of his voice.

“We had a lighted beacon that we put inside of each piece of equipment that he was using. If there was an issue, we’d just hit the button, a light would flash, and he would stop the machine,” said Barron.

Flower finished the course at the top of his class.

“This just shows that you really can do anything,” said Barron. “No matter what challenges that life faces you, you can get through them and you can go on and be successful.”

The school took this as an opportunity to learn something themselves.

“You don’t have to be limited as far as your opportunities in life and you’re able to get through this and through these challenges,” said Barron.

And that we’re all different.

“I think it’s really important that as a community we realize that every individual has challenges and has barriers and that we’re all not cookie cutter. We’re all not made the same,” said Barron.

As for Hunter Flower? He’s now living his dream.

“When I was small, when I grew up, I knew I would become a better – I’d be in the machines. I would be better at it,” said Flower.

Copyright 2020 WLUC. All rights reserved.

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