Hands-on skills will benefit them in the job market

OLD WASHINGTON — A newly renovated business lab with a Versant 280 Press by Xerox is providing Buckeye Trail High School students with new opportunities to learn and succeed.

Students are learning hands-on skills that will benefit them in the job market by using Microsoft Office, Adobe and GenYES to design and create a variety of products.

Items created by students include sports programs, customized products such as signs and banners for the district, advertising and invoices for jobs, just to name a few.

“This year, we took a step forward with the lab and year-long classes,” said Jerrod Norman, a second-year business and computer teacher at the school. “This has given students opportunities they didn’t have last year.

“When these students go to apply for jobs, business personnel will see they have the training and knowledge, as well as the skills, to excel and succeed.”

Classes were only a semester last year, but the change this school year gives current students and those in the future more time to learn.

Last year, students were able to create things like the sports programs, but they had to send them to an outside publisher to have them printed.

That work is now done in-house with the addition of the Versant press funded by multiple sources including Career Tech funds, SR 2 funds through the Perkins Grant that generated by the CARES Act and the district’s General Fund.

Norman said most of the major projects are organized and completed under the direction of a student editor giving them even more hands-on experience.

An example was the 80-page fall sports program completed under the direction of student editor McKenzie Todd using the Fiery Command WorkStation to format the product.

“The program was put together and edited in less than two weeks of class time,” said Norman.

The new press also allows the class to create customized programs with special inserts or covers.

Other examples of in-house print jobs include the Buckeye Trail FFA creating a 1 by 12-foot banner for the Guernsey County Fair, wrist bands that serve as homecoming tickets, signs for the parking lot at the Baker Activity Complex, and magnets.

“The students learn job skills and we print things basically at cost,” said Norman. “That helps the boosters provide more opportunities for other kids by diverting the expenses instead of sending it out to print at a higher cost.”

Ant the learning does not stop with print products.

The Adobe students are learning hands-on videotaping and editing with the Adobe Premier programs including Photoshop, Illustrator and Dreamweaver.

“They are excited,” said Norman. “It is great for creating commercials with special effects and other projects.”

The students are using the program to create advertisements for school events and Norman believes the work could expand to business advertisements outside the school.

The Dreamweaver program is used to create websites.

“Last year, they created a website with one or two pages,” said Norman. “This year, they are working on multiple page websites with links to other pages.”

GenYES provides schools like Buckeye Trail with the opportunity to enlist the energy and expertise of students to become the IT experts for their schools and communities.

Students provide tech support for their classrooms, help set up distance learning, troubleshoot issues, build school and club websites, and more.

“Students who follow the curriculum become certified tech assistants,” added Norman.

The district expects to add more business-related classes in the future.

“The programs offer additional opportunities for students who don’t go to career tech schools or college,” said Norman. “I want them to be able to learn here without going someplace else. We want to keep our students here at Buckeye Trail.”

The programs have been popular with students, according to Norman.

“We are fortunate to have very talented students who have a thirst for knowledge and content,” he said.

Middle school students are working with Google Apps on a nine-week rotation.

“This is a start for us and we are looking to add some things when we get good at these,” said Zac Housely, director of curriculum and instruction for the East Guernsey Local School District.

Renovations that allowed for more spacing in the business lab and Senso, a cloud-based network for classroom safeguarding and asset management, have help make it safer for students amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Senso program allows Norman to monitor all of the computers in use in the classroom from his desk and gives him the ability to capture screens for sharing with other students.

Renovations still pending for the lab include installation of a large monitor on a wall in the lab which Norman can use to display the work of students.

“They will be able to see things without gathering around a single computer,” he said. “They can stay socially distanced, which is really good with the COVID pandemic.”

Spacing among the 26 computer stations in the lab also helps to distance students from each other and technology acquired by the district allows him to share the classroom with students who are quarantined due to the pandemic.

Norman said he hopes to enter some of the district’s students in the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival and the 48 Hour Film Project.

The 90-Second Newbery Film Festival is an annual video contest in which young filmmakers create weird short movies that tell the entire stories of Newbery-winning books in about 90 seconds.

Meanwhile, the 48 Hour Film Project is an annual film competition in which teams of filmmakers are assigned a genre, a character, a prop, and a line of dialogue, and have 48 hours to create a short film containing those elements.

“These competitions give the students chances to network with authors and learn multi-media procedures,” said Norman. “We would not have that without the extra opportunities being provided for our students.”

Students can be certified in various programs upon completion of the school year.