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PCHS providing career options for creative students

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    Work-based learning student, Gracie, designs a character for a graphic design project. LAUREN MALEK/Staff
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    Susan Arrington’s classroom wall is covered with a large sticker with designs made by former and current students. LAUREN MALEK/Staff
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    A student uses the program’s Silhouette to cut out shapes for a project. LAUREN MALEK/Staff
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    The graphic communications program produces a variety of different products like etched serving utensils and trays. LAUREN MALEK/Staff

Putnam County High School resumed instruction on Tuesday, Jan. 5. This means CTAE teachers like Susan Arrington can continue working to prepare the young minds of Putnam County for their future outside of high school.

Arrington is the CTAE educator for the graphic communications program at the high school. The three classes she teaches throughout the school year are designed to help students learn the basic computer skills that they will need in the outside world and then build on those skills and develop a foundation in graphic design.

The first class in the pathway is an introduction to basic computer skills, graphic design concepts and software that will be used throughout the program. Arrington says the students work on projects daily that help them to learn new skills. The second level class builds on the first and digs deeper into different aspects of graphic design and allows students to hone the skills they learned in the first class. The third, advanced level class then finalizes the pathway and students are able to take an End-of-Pathway assessment in order to receive a seal on their diploma.

Arrington says she plans on giving the students an entrepreneurial outlook on graphic design to show them the career options within the field.

“This year, I’m going to add a huge entrepreneurship theme to it. Moving forward, we are going to focus on how to create a startup from the ground up like covering everything from marketing to bookkeeping to having online sales, advertising and stuff like that,” she shared. “I’m really excited about getting that started.”

She plans on creating an online store for the students to sell their work and learn to manage a small business. Next year, she hopes to go even further and get the class involved in hands-on projects like vehicle wrapping.

“Graphic design isn’t always just sitting behind a computer and designing things.”

“When COVID happened it really wasn’t a huge transition or shock,” she said. She said she had already begun teaching the course through video for the students to watch and learn at their own pace and she was in the classroom to provide support for specific issues.

“It’s also convenient for students or athletes who are out of school and missing class,” she said. “They can go back and access it. Its less stressful for the students. As you get into it, they become more independent.”

The Graphic Communications department also gives students the opportunity to apply for an unpaid internship or a paid work-based learning position. Within these two programs, students produce graphic work like yard-signs, banners, embroidery and similar projects for the school, businesses and individuals.

She began working at the high school three years ago and has been serving Putnam County High School as the volleyball coach, esports coach and the graphic communications CTAE department chair.

“I fell in love with it. It’s a lot of fun,” she said.