Clovis North students inspired by visually impaired classmate

Clovis North drama students (left to right) Dylan Peterson, Davlynn Shuemake, Julia Trieu and Hannah Ventura try on face masks as they get ready to eat lunch blindfolded during a class experiment, Thursday, Nov. 1, 2018. DANIEL LEON/CLOVIS ROUNDUP

Students in Joel Abels’ drama class at Clovis North took part in a special activity Thursday morning.

As part of a project titled “Savory for the Senses,” the 40-plus students ate lunch blindfolded to better understand visually impaired classmate Heaven Vallejos and what she goes through every day.

“I’m glad that they decided to go out and do this,” said Vallejos. “It was just really cool to see what they thought and what happened after they took off the blindfolds.”

To get things started, students lined up outside the drama classroom where they were each handed blindfolds. With the help of leadership students, they were escorted inside the building one at a time and seated at one of multiple tables. After everyone was seated, they were free to eat – or attempt to eat – their lasagna, salad and bread. Most students struggled to feed themselves while other got the hang after a while.

After the meal, students had the opportunity to share their experience and reflect on what they learned.

“It was hard, definitely hard,” said student Dylan Peterson. “There was a lot of ups and downs. I used my fingers a lot because I had a feeling where the food was, but I was scared that it was going to get all over me. It was trouble.”

Peterson added that he now has a better perspective on what Vallejos, and others who are visually impaired, face.

“Now I know what her world is like and how it’s so easy to judge a person because you don’t know what they have to go through every day,” he said. “I went through this and that was only a small percentage of her entire day. It’s hard, it’s eye-opening.”

For Vallejos, she hopes her classmates learned a lot after walking a mile in her shoes.

“I hope they learned that I can do things but we may need help with certain things,” she said. “We live life too, it’s just a little different.”

Daniel Leon
A native of Woodlake, Daniel Leon is a recent graduate of Fresno State with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism. Daniel served as Sports Editor at The Collegian, Fresno State’s student-run newspaper, prior to joining the Roundup. Got a story idea? Email him at