http://danvillesanramon.com/print/story/print/2008/06/20/diablo-views-many-kinds-of-special


Danville Express

Column - June 20, 2008

Diablo Views: Many kinds of special

by Dolores Fox Ciardelli

Special has taken on a whole new meaning in the American language, as in special education, Special Olympics, etc. But special education student Javier Peraza, who was recognized by the Danville Women's Club at its luncheon last week, is special in more ways than one - his piece of art was chosen by the California General Federation of Women's Clubs after it won the local annual contest, then the district, to go on to state competition.

Darlene Feyler, head of the program, had the abstract painting framed for the luncheon, and the orange mat brought out the vibrant colors beautifully. Javier attended the luncheon with his teacher at Los Cerros Middle School, Sally Mills, and Claudia Ronaldson, principal of Mauzy School who supervises special education at Los Cerros. His mom Blanca was also there as well as his tutor. Javier, 14, is just finishing Los Cerros Middle School and next year will attend Alhambra High in Martinez. At Los Cerros he was mainstreamed into P.E. class and music, where he played percussion.

Feyler, known in the art world as Dar, volunteers to teach special education art. She also instructs children in affiliation with the Contra Costa Academy of Fine Art, and calls her students the Young Picassos. She likes to quote Pablo Picasso: "Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up."

Dar teaches art two Mondays a month at the Danville Women's Club for adults of all levels - those who have always wanted to try their hand at painting, as well as others who may have painted at some time in their lives and want to get back to it. Cost is $15 per session for members, $20 for non-members, which goes toward art scholarships for students, and the supplies for her special education art classes. To learn more about this, call Dar at 830-4533. The classes are scheduled for 10:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. but they usually are having such a good time, Dar said, that before they know it, it's 12:30.

Last week was my first glimpse at the inside of the Danville Women's Club, a pleasant building on Linda Mesa. The women take turns preparing their monthly luncheons throughout the year but for June, each member brings a salad - delicious!

This luncheon was also special because the club presented college scholarships to high school students after everyone ate. The club gave $500 to Justin Banaga of Monte Vista High School, Chelsea Spencer of San Ramon Valley High, and Rachel Feller of Cal High. Del Amigo received $250 to be used to benefit the students. Justin was given his award in the middle of lunch because he had to take a final exam back at Monte Vista High School at 1:15 p.m. He seemed quite relaxed as he received the money and returned to his table to continue to visit and laugh with the others, but I kept nervously looking at the clock. Must be nice to be young, smart and relaxed.

The club also gave $2,000 to Peggy Hernandez for the Hospice of the East Bay in memory of Win Haagensen, who started Tree of Lights to benefit Hospice; she died last August at the age of 90. The money was raised at the club's annual fashion show held in May at Crow Canyon Country Club. Peggy, who recently became an employee of Hospice, knows it inside and out because she was first a client and then a volunteer. She gave up another career to join the organization, feeling she had to follow her heart, she said.

A month or so ago, the club recognized other special education art students who won at the local level, at a reception attended by Mayor Candace Andersen: Nathan Cass received honorable mention; Blaise Alfman, second place; Brentt Sequeria, third; and Ella Costello, fourth. "The excitement of the children, parents and teachers was overwhelming and brought tears to our eyes," Dar recounted. "What delightful children."

And last Friday, Javier smiled broadly as he was given his framed piece of art, the state recognition and $20 prize money. It was a special day at the Danville Women's Club.

-Dolores Fox Ciardelli can be e-mailed at editor@DanvilleWeekly.com.

PULLQUOTE: Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.

Pablo Picasso

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