Daily Point of Light # 1818 Jan 22, 2001

The Piedmont High School National Art Honor Society sponsors a program called Very Special Arts. This program educates high school students about people with disabilities and provides them with the opportunity to participate in a countywide festival celebrating the arts.

This National Art Honor Society (NAHS) is a unique organization to Union County Public Schools. It is the only such program in the county. The program consists of high school students in grades 10 through 12. The students must have maintained an average of 90 or above in their art classes. Students involved in the NAHS are looked upon as role models for other students at Piedmont High School (PHS) because they invest many community service hours outside of the school day.

The mission of the PHS NAHS is to educate the school and community about the arts, and to make the work a better place by using their talents and sharing with others. The organization has sponsored various programs. They have created over 500 porcelain Christmas ornaments for the Union County local Hospice House. NAHS has participated in Make-A-Difference Day and sponsored art shows in local hospitals, which resulted in their donating $200 to a student attending their school who was battling cancer. They have also painted murals in a local day care center to beautify the environment and decorated pumpkins and donated them to local nursing homes and businesses.

The NAHS is also involved in a monumental yearlong project called Very Special Arts (VSA). VSA is an event in which students in the NAHS have full responsibility. They plan and organize a festival for 700 people. The volunteers choose a theme, research the artist or author to educate their classmates, and raise money by making presentations and writing grant proposals. The students are also responsible for soliciting and recruiting volunteers, planning booths and activities including disability awareness activities for the entire school, as well as an art show at a local hospital. One of the goals of the VSA is to give students the opportunity to participate in community service from the initial planning stages to the clean up.

For the past 6years, VSA has been running smoothly under the direction of the PHS NAHS. This particular event has made an impact on individuals in the community and raised awareness of individuals with disabilities. Students at PHS have become more caring and respectful to all individuals due to participation in this event. VSA has given high school students a positive experience at an early age and hopes it will influence them to continue to give back to their community as youth as well as adults.

The young men and women of the PHS NAHS have an impact on Union County Public Schools and beyond. They give special needs children a change to express themselves through art and feel a great sense of accomplishment. In turn, they educate their campus and the community about the needs, desires, and talents of those with disabilities. The look in the children’s eyes that participate in the program shows pride, joy, and confidence; however, the look in the eyes of the high school volunteers mirrors the same.