NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - U.S. Army reservist and school parent Sergeant Luke Romaniecki noticed that Summit Speech School’s flag was caught around the flag pole and tattered. He asked if the school wanted to fly “his” flag—a flag presented to him in honor of his service in Iraq for the U.S. Army. Now it proudly flies at the special school for the deaf where his daughter, Theia, participates in the Parent Infant Program, “Sound Beginnings.”

In mid- January, as preschool students watched, workers from the Borough of New Providence Department of Public Works removed the twisted old flag and replaced it with Romaniecki’s new flag.  The workers used the borough’s cherry picker truck to reach the top of the flag pole. Former New Providence Mayor John Thoms, who is also the Chairman of the Board of the Summit Speech School, said the municipality was very pleased to be able to donate their time and the use of their truck.

Pamela Paskowitz, Summit Speech School’s Executive Director, said, “I was really moved by this gift to the school from Luke and Laura Romaniecki. It is a symbol of our country and also a sign of appreciation for how we have served their little daughter.”

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Theia was born with progressive hearing loss. She wears one hearing aid and one cochlear implant. A cochlear implant is a surgically implanted electronic device that provides sound to the auditory nerve of a person whose ear is profoundly deaf.  Her father, Luke, was in Kuwait last August at the time that Theia, at 14 months, was implanted.  Yet, he was able to be present at the implant activation event by Skype. The video of her hearing activation moment was on national TV.

Theia, in the half year since receiving her cochlear implant, she has been able to enjoy listening to herself speak, and clearly has decided she loves to sing.

Summit Speech School was started in 1967 by May Gold and the Summit Junior League on the grounds of Overlook Hospital following the national outbreak of Rubella that caused deafness in 20,000 infants.  It is the only non-public program in NJ dedicated to teaching deaf and hard of hearing children from birth through high school to listen and speak. The highly skilled staff works with families, babies, preschool and school-aged children as well as with educators, physicians, audiologists and therapists. The vast majority of Summit Speech School students go on to mainstream classrooms, colleges and careers, and form relationships and families. Their progress is nothing short of amazing.