Art speaks for students

HOWELL — Art is a form of expression and for those who may not be able to express themselves verbally, speaking through art can get a person’s point across and the effort itself can be soothing to the individual who produces the art.

Students who are enrolled in the Autism Spectrum Program at Howell High School are expressing their feelings through artwork with the help of paraprofessional Colleen Hordichuk, who is licensed as an art therapist. The students work on their art projects at school.

Lenore Kopelovich, the supervisor of special education at Howell High School, said giving the students the ability to create art helps them to express their feelings.

Kopelovich explained that the autism programatHowell has been in existence for four years. The school received a Governor’s Initiative for Autism grant five years ago.

The program started with five students and has grown to 21 students, drawing pupils from across the Freehold Regional High School District’s eight sending municipalities.

Recently, the students have had their work put out for the public’s viewing pleasure. The art may be seen on the Internet website at

The benefit of having the work displayed on Artsonia is not just having the public see what the students have created, but to offer them the chance to purchase the art.

The program receives 15 percent of the sale price.Hordichuk said themoney goes toward the cost of art supplies. The sale of the students’ art raised $85 for the program last year and has raised $80 this year.

Having the students express themselves through art is an initiative that has been praised by parents, Hordichuk said.

Last year the Autism Spectrum Program hosted an art gallery to display the students’ work for their parents and fellow students.

Kopelovich said allowing their peers to see the work they have created helps the selfesteem of students in the program and serves as a way to integrate them with their peers.

“(The Autism Spectrum Program) as a whole is very special to everyone involved with it,” Kopelovich said.

The program works to teach students the skills they will use in the community, including information such as how to shop and how to use a bank account.

Kopelovich said the goal is to try and bridge the gap between what the students did in middle school and what they will need to do when they are adults.

Students in the Autism Spectrum Program work in small classes and, if necessary, with paraprofessionals. The students who are enrolled in the program also work with local employers to develop their job skills.

Kopelovich and Hordichuk said the programwould not be as successful as it is without the help and support of Howell High School’s administration, including Principal Zina Duerbig.

— Rebecca Morton