Loy Norrix choir student succeeds despite rare sight disability


Jessica DeRyke sings in choir teacher Julie Pelligrino’s class. Despite challenges, DeRyke excels in her school work and finds joy in singing.

Avery Strand, Guest Writer

Learning music and reading notes can be a struggle for anyone. It is even harder for fifteen year old sophomore Jessica DeRyke, who was diagnosed with a rare disorder called Peters Anomaly making her half blind. 

“I was born with Peters Anomaly and it interferes with some genes,” said DeRyke. 

According to Peters Anomaly, it is a disease where the eye thins and clouds around the cornea and where the cornea and the iris meet in the eye. 

DeRyke was diagnosed with this at birth, and both of her eyes are affected by it, yet one of her eyes is dead and the other has limited vision. Despite these challenges, DeRyke still goes about everyday life activities and is in her second year in choir and a strong participant. 

In the beginning of her choir career, she struggled with learning the music and she had to adopt a new way of learning the lyrics and notes of the songs because she isn’t able to read as quickly because of Peters Anomaly. 

Over time, DeRyke has improved her hearing skills and now learns all of the choir music by ear. 

“Choir is both a combination of visual and audio and with my vision being the way that it is I had to find a way around the vision requirements,” said DeRyke. 

This is a large obstacle for DeRyke and she tried remedies to help her keep up with the rest of the choir members. A method she tried out was having bigger prints of the music to help her read the words and notes easier. This method worked temporarily, but still seemed to bring her down. 

“With larger music it was easier to see, but I ended up falling behind because it took longer to flip the pages and also I am a very slow reader,” said DeRyke.

After some time of trying to keep up and being frustrated, DeRyke ditched this method and has since trained her ears completely to listen and hear the music as it is happening. 

“When I’m listening I don’t have to worry about reading because I’m hearing it as it is happening,” said DeRyke.

She now has the ability to pick up the music by listening to the others that sing her part and has a very different choir experience then the others around her. DeRyke has completely learned to cope with her disease and successfully made the best of it and she doesn’t allow herself to be limited because of it.