CLINTONVILLE -- In Rebecca Conklin's art class, Katelynn Goheens, Margie Bassler and Liz Feeley worked on projects for today's AuSable Valley High School art exhibition at the Keeseville Free Library.

Goheens worked on a charcoal of Marilyn Monroe. Bassler sketched a landscape. Caitlin Roy, who had completed all of her work, made some suggestions to Feeley as she painted the border of her painting "Firefighter."

"I like to draw as well," said Feeley, a senior who will attend SUNY Potsdam next fall and major in art education. Bassler and Roy will attend the same school and also major in art education.

"I like to paint," Roy said. "I like to do realistic drawings. I like to do a lot of drawing of people."

Bassler also has interests in photography and graphic design. She would like to create animation for games.

Goheens, a junior, plans to study dental hygiene at SUNY Canton.

"I will probably do something with art," she said.

This exhibition is the first of its kind at the library. At the high school level, AuSable Valley offers classes in studio and art, drawing and painting, ceramics and sculpture, pottery and advanced art.

"The students have a huge variety of courses they can take and it builds on the skills to help them prepare for college," Conklin said. "For seven years prior to that, they were without art at the elementary level.

"All the students coming up have a huge improvement in artistic skills. I think that this is all a result of having a strong artist community and parents to make sure that we have art at all levels."

Senior Michelle Haynes is on the waiting list for the Rhode Island School of Design and Brown University.

"I want to major in the visual arts and double major in communications," Haynes said.

She wanted to take art in the ninth grade but because of Regents requirements, she didn't take an art class until the 10th grade.

"I did art outside of school," Haynes said.

Reagan Earle's students will have Vincent van Gogh studies and naturalistic prints in the show. A 1996 Peru High School graduate, Earle has taught at AuSable Valley for four years.

"It was my high school art teachers who inspired me to become who I am," Earle said. "Peter Russom from the college was a big influence on me. Lynn Manning with photography. She was my biggest inspiration to keep me going."

Around her, Earle's students dipped white strips into water to create their papier-mâché Oaxacan animals.

"They are animal sculptures inspired by wood carvings from Mexico," Earle said. "They're very stylized and brightly colored."

Two students worked at a potter's wheel.

"As a seventh grader, I was never on the wheel. This is something new that we're doing. I don't think a lot of districts do this."

She picks up a van Gogh study, "The Night Cafe" by Jen Florentine, and a hermit crab print by Hannah O'Toole. These works will be in the show.

"I think we've come a long way since we've had an elementary program in place," Earle said. "We're seeing stronger work each year. We have a lot of talented kids. They're so enthusiastic. I have a lot of kids who see me when they have free time. I do have an after-school program."

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