Students’ cookbook sellin’ like hotcakesThe boys of the Superior High School Autism Spectrum Disorder program are celebrating a successful fundraiser this spring with additional trips into the community.
By: Anna Kurth, The Daily Telegram
The boys of the Superior High School Autism Spectrum Disorder program are celebrating a successful fundraiser this spring with additional trips into the community.
Program staff and students worked this winter to sell “Into the Oven” a slim black and white cookbook they developed featuring about 100 recipes for everything from appetizers to dessert.
The program’s 14 students gathered recipes for the book or enlisted their parents recipes. Staff members added their own food formulas from home and the program’s kitchen.
Then they set out in December to sell 100 cookbooks, but ended up selling about 150, raising $750 for the program.
“People responded in a surprising way. We got calls from bars in Superior,” said teacher Jim Starzynski.
The bar owners were willing to sell a couple copies of the book to help out the program, he said.
“People in Superior just like cookbooks,” he said. “I think it’s something kind of descriptive of the area that people appreciate home cooked recipes.”
The students and staff started out selling their books to family members before winter break. After break they opened the sale to the community. Starting out, program staff formed and bound the books themselves, but they soon received so many orders they hired a Superior printer to make the books for a minimal fee. Then they went to a second printing.
The students were pleased to be part of the grass roots effort to support their program — an effort that involved people in the community and their families buying books to support them, Starzynski said.
“There’s a lot of goodwill woven into it and the kids see that,” he said.
The program uses the money raised for the students to take trips into the community. Autistic people don’t sense the world in the same way as other people. Their eyes, ears and the rest of their sensory system works differently so autistic kids are self aware. It’s important for them to be introduced to situations in the community they’ll encounter when leaving school, Starzynski said.
The money raised from the sale provides for 10 to 15 trips for the program’s students 16 or older.
On their trips students ride city buses and eat at restaurants. Eating at restaurants and riding the bus are as important as the activity, Starzynski said.
“They’re going to learn by repeating transit routes, table manners,” he said.
Their parents practice with the students, but these are important skills to reinforce during the school day. During trips to Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College the program’s students are each given $1 to get something from the vending machine, he said.
Even something as routine to us as using a vending machine, these students are learning. The students get used to the route to find the machines, how they work and the fact that they don’t always work properly.
The Autism Spectrum Disorder program serves students at all levels of the spectrum. From students who graduate with honors to those who cannot take general education courses and instead must concentrate on life skills, Starzynski said.
Before going on trips students map their routes online, Starzynski said.
The trips teach students where centers of learning, art and shopping are located in the community, so they may visit these locations on their own when they leave school.
The fundraiser was a success, but the program will continue raising money in the future, Starzynski said.
The amount budgeted to the Autism Spectrum Disorder program for trips varies each year but always needs to be supplemented, he said.
The Autism Spectrum Disorder program began in 2004 to help autistic students at Superior High School. Most of the students spend their day in regular education classrooms, but require accommodations for some assignments.
The program serves 14 students — with its first crop of two graduates this year. Next year six additional students will join the program from Superior Middle School raising the number of students to 18. Students in the autism program have the option of staying in school until the age of 21 depending on their abilities. For students who stay until 21, they will need to make trips into the community for five to six years before graduating. The fundraising needs will continue to rise as more students turn 16 and need to get into the community, he said.
Anna Kurth covers education. Call her at (715) 395-5019 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.