Hope blooms for students | News, sports, work

Photo for correspondence / Primary and secondary school for potential development named after Sean Barron for Students on the Autism Spectrum received more than $7,000 during a check presentation ceremony Monday morning at the Youngstown school. At the event were, from left, Hannah Feeney, teacher, third- and fourth-grade students Nicholas Westhead, Jay’marr Robinson and Carter Naples, Kendal Ginnetti, teacher, and Danielle Covelli, chief marketing officer of Covelli Enterprises.

YOUNGSTOWN — In anticipation of anticipated growth and the need for additional spaces, Potential Development Elementary and Middle School received a gift of $7,162 from Covelli Enterprises Inc.

“Space is at a premium,” said Lori Factor, communications manager for Potential Development, during a special check presentation held Monday morning at the school on the South Side. “Covelli Enterprises has a long history of supporting capacity development.”

The school, which serves first- through sixth-grade students on the autism spectrum, expects a 15% increase in student enrollment next year, from the current 280 to about 315, Factor said. As a result, an additional classroom will be needed to accommodate this level of development, she added.

Factor was unable to provide details about the class or whether it would be an elementary and middle school or the Potential Development High School across the street. Nevertheless, she said that, as with all classrooms at both schools, teachers will be able to plan and use the space at their discretion, tailoring it to students’ needs, Factor noted.

The inspection was the result of Covelli Enterprises’ week-long Blooms of Hope for Autism campaign from April 15 to April 21 at seven local Panera Bread locations, said Danielle Covelli, the company’s chief marketing officer. She added that at the time, $1 was donated for every tulip-shaped shortbread cookie sold.

Additional funds for this effort were also raised through Panera’s Operation Dough-Nation program, which allowed customers to drop off cash donations in drop boxes at checkout counters.

Moreover, the campaign took place in mid-April, i.e. Autism Awareness Month.

“We are deeply grateful to Covelli Enterprises for sponsoring the Blooms of Hope campaign and to everyone who purchased a cookie at Panera this week. This type of broad-based community effort allows everyone to do their part to achieve the goal of increasing global understanding and acceptance of people with autism,” Paul Garchar, CEO of Potential Development, said in a statement.

Since launching the campaign in 2011, Covelli Enterprises has raised approximately $2.27 million for various schools, autism organizations and centers in eight states that provide needed services, scholarships, treatments and therapies, research and support for families, Covelli noted .

Covelli also praised her company’s relationship with Potential Development, saying the autism spectrum school is very important to the Mahoning Valley.

“The collaboration we have with Covelli Enterprises is overwhelming,” Factor said, adding: “Early intervention is key.”

Potential Development, founded in 1953, offers a caring, inclusive and state-of-the-art environment for students of all grades diagnosed with autism, with a strong emphasis on personalized learning.

To achieve these goals, Potential Development incorporates the Structured Treatment and Education for Autistic and Communication Impaired Children (TEACCH) into its curriculum, which provides a range of structured methods to enhance the learning characteristics of individuals with autism. These include strengths in visual information processing, difficulties with communication, attention and executive skills.

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