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Juniors in the Digital Media Program at Back of the Yards College Preparatory High School (BOYCP) spent a day touring Chicago’s Cushing print and display graphics company last week . The 22 students observed real day-to-day processes from file setup to flatbed printing and more, and then gathered in the conference room to interact with the shop’s employees.
Digital Media Teacher Bobby Anderson says the students were hesitant, at first, when asked if they’d ever considered a career in print before. But by the end of the day it seemed feelings had changed. “They were amazed at how many different materials are used that they see every day and what it takes to actually make that happen,” he says.
BOYCP is an international baccalaureate school, so the academics are rigorous, to say the least. “It’s basically jumping from sophomore year of high school to freshman year of college,” says Anderson. He helped start the Digital Media Program two years ago to offer an option for kids with more creative-centered interests and learning styles. By the end of their senior year, students are certified in Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator and have digital and print portfolios to showcase. They’re responsible for printing their own projects, including wide-format pieces on an Epson SureColor P8000. The current passion of the junior class is a 5K relay race, says Anderson. They’re producing all of the print materials, including a giant check to present the funds raised to a local shelter.
Anderson says he always tells his students to “design with the end in mind.” If you’re designing for print, you have to consider color mode. If you’re designing something that needs to be scalable, you better work in Illustrator. “The trip to Cushing helped reinforce that ‘end in mind’ design because they got to see what it’s like to actually have clients come in.”
A major theme of Anderson’s curriculum is problem-solving. “If you can problem-solve, you can do almost anything anyone asks you to do,” he says, and that was a great part of the experience of visiting Cushing. “That’s one of the things that struck me as really exciting: how they problem-solve with different client requests, different materials. ‘How can we get jobs done for anyone that comes in the door?’”