Students work with Fairhaven children

NILES – During the past school year, the Hubbard High School chapter of the National Arts Honor Society was investigating ideas to expose neighboring communities to the arts.

Josh Macmillan, Hubbard high school art teacher, said an idea came from the small group of 10 students to create an outreach program through the chapter.

“The idea was to put a series of lessons together and create a series of workshops for either young children or elderly men and women that do not have daily access to the arts. We reached out to Fairhaven Schools in Niles, and they were very receptive,” Macmillan said.

He said the program at Fairhaven is an educational option in the continuum of special education services and learning environments available to individuals with developmental disabilities.

MacMillan, a ninth-year art teacher, said students who have signed up for advanced placement classes and / or have had two credits in visual arts took part in the program.

He said the nine Hubbard students came up with a total of 16 projects, eight for each workshop, creating a list of materials for the projects for 300 students over two workshops.

“Due to the large number of students ranging from age 3 to 22, the Hubbard students loaded up the materials and traveled to the Niles school to put on the series of four-hour workshops.

The workshops were put on in December (themed by Christmas and winter projects) and April (themed by Easter and spring projects).

Macmillan said the program would fit the category of civic engagement / professional partnerships because it is engaging two separate communities and schools Hubbard High School in Hubbard and Fairhaven School in Niles.

The National Arts Honor Society is a nonprofit organization geared toward getting students firsthand experiences in several aspects of the visual arts.

“The goals of the program were to allow students to reach out on a volunteer basis to share the visual arts with those that may not have an annual opportunity to engage in painting, drawing, or even crafts,” he said.

Macmillan said as a teacher, he wanted the students to become teachers and experience the gratification of helping others experience visual arts.

“The students we encountered were mainstreamed preschool children, students with mental disabilities such as autism, Down syndrome and mental retardation,” Macmillan said.

“The simplest way to see the success of the program was from the children themselves and the interaction with the high school students. The projects also gave the children something physical to take home and show their parents and family members,” Macmillan said.

Fairhaven Principal Rosanne Morell said the students who came to Fairhaven were “very professional, caring and energetic in their opportunity to participate with our program.”

She said the Hubbard students came to the school in late 2013 bringing art supplies with them and sharing their time helping and teaching preschool and school-age students to create special holiday-themed projects.

“Knowing they wouldn’t be able to work with all our classes in one day, they volunteered to return in April to work with those remaining students to create a spring-themed project,” Morell said.

She said not only do the Fairhaven students benefit from the interaction with different people and various programs, “we feel the volunteers come away with an appreciation of those with disabilities.”