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Scappoose Middle Schoolers learn hands-on graphic design work to create sellable products

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: NICOLE THILL - Lacaya Berumen places a new set of stickers on her vinyl cutting machine after creating her own artwork using a computer assisted design program at the iDesign Workshop on Tuesday, Aug. 8. Berumen was one of 26 students to take part in the week-long workshop that was supported by a Portland Community College grant.On a summer day in a building known as S-Hall at Scapooose High School, 26 middle school students are intently focused on computer screens, while operating a computer assisted design program called Silhouette.

Eighth-grader Rowen Suchoski is creating a pattern that looks like shattered glass that he plans to print on a vinyl decal, which he will put across his water bottle. A few seats down, eighth-grader Emily Mickelonis is researching patterns to compliment a series of black sparrows that she has printed on vinyl stickers decorating her cutting machine.

The students are taking part in a five-day iDesign Workshop, which was grant funded by Portland Community College. The immersive summer workshop takes students in seventh through ninth grade, who have no experience with graphic design or computer assisted design programs, and teaches them from the ground up.

Cece Cutsforth, a graphic arts instructor at PCC, is leading the workshop this year, and led a similar workshop for high school students last summer at Century High School in Hillsboro. The $176,000 grant from PCC covered two-years of work shops at the high school and middle school level.

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: NICOLE THILL - A row of etched glass drinking cups were just some of the creations designed by students in the iDesign Workshop. Students in the workshop learned to create a variety of art pieces including fabric prints, vinyl stickers and metal working during the week.During the week, students make numerous crafts including etched glass vases, vinyl stickers, pop-up greeting cards and more. The students get to keep all of their creations at the end of the workshop and they get to keep their vinyl cutting Silhouette Portrait brand desktop printers.

Cutsforth said the class is not just about teaching students how to use certain programs and technologies, but to also expose them to potential career possibilities at a young age.

"We want to instill in their minds that they can have a micro business too," Cutsforth said.

Cutsforth also spent time talking with the students about basic elements of design and typography so students were able to learn more about graphic design skills.

Several students including Rowen Suchoski and his twin brother Luke, already have plans to make vinyl stickers which they hope to sell to their friends and classmates after the workshop. Luke said he has really enjoyed the workshop and having the opportunity to be creative.

"It's really an empowering freedom to make whatever you want on this computer," Luke Suchoski said.

Cutsforth said the workshop also allows students to see what kind of post-secondary educational opportunities might be avalaible to them, including courses at the community college.

"The ultimate thing is that we also want kids to think of PCC as a pathway," Cutsforth said.

Scappoose School District Interim Superintendent Ron Alley said the program also allowed the district to set up a lab space in the high school that will be used for upcoming career and technical education courses. The district recently signed a contract to offer classes through PCC starting next spring.

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