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FLEXO Magazine : January 2009
FTA TODAY Class/Work Fort Mill Flexo Class Offers Job-like Environment By Christian R. Bonawandt The Flexo in Education program at Fort Mill High School, Fort Mill, SC, was built integrated into the state’s CATE (Career and Technical Education) print curriculum. That means lessons on flexography (and screen print) have to be woven around required lessons in offset. But that, instructor JerryHowell insisted, comes with certain I benefits. The real challenge, he claimed, is helping young teenag- ers realize the breadth and depth of the graphics and flexo indus- try, the career opportunities that lie within it, and to help them develop skills that they can bring to the job. FLEXO EMERSION Graphics are everywhere! Not a day goes by that any one of us does not encounter some aspect or product of the industry. This, Howell stated, is Lesson No. 1 in his classroom. “One of my big- gest goals is to tell them that they don’t need to go out of their way to be in graphics,” he said. “It is in every aspect of their life. Most of them come in with no concept of what printing is, and yet they are wearing a T-shirt, drinking a drink with a label, eating from a bag of chips, etc.” He went on to say, “I make them bring something to class that has been printed. A lot of times they bring in energy drinks, which are so popular right now. Then I talk to them about the graphics and the UPC bar code, etc. Go to the trash can and you will find this industry. When they go out to eat, I make them think about the ketchup bottle, the sugar packets, or a fast food sandwich wrap, etc. Some of them will come back and say, ‘I can’t get away from printing.’ Well, that’s the point!” The next goal is to get them to communicate graphically. For example, during the school’s designated Safety Week, he required students to create a layout of the room in illustrator and give graphic directions for how to exit in case of a fire. Then it’s time to put ink on paper. “The Level I class will do that three weeks into the year. They also need to learn to do art on the computer. I try to break it up so that they are not just sit- ting down the whole time and show them, ‘This is your goal.’” 62 FLEXO JANUARY 2009 t’s more than just flexographic printing. It’s more than put- ting ink on paper. It’s about being exposed to wider worlds— the packaging world, the print world, the working world. Fort Mill High School student Scott Forsythe checks the print quality during the pressrun. He starts them simple: a one-color line job. Soon, it’s two colors, and the students learn the basics of trapping. “After that, they might have to bend type on a circle, or reverse print. My objectives build. The goal doesn’t change, it just gets more com- plicated,” said Howell. For second-year student, the focus is on production techniques. Howell spends a great deal of time on how to recreate art. “For example, a customer wants a sticker, T-shirt, etc. They know what they want, but they don’t know what we need to produce a prod- uct. So I give them art that lets them build their skills. I show them how things break down to simple shapes. I want them to see this concept so that they can recreate art. If the art is prepared right, it can be printed on anything. Then it’s more complex printing.” The most difficult flexo job in for Level II students is that of a high-contrast label featuring a dead musician. “They do most of the work in Photoshop, but it has to be printable. I like this as- signment; it gets them excited because they are thinking about music, which they are into.” Very often,Howell proclaimed, he will see students swap labels with each other, which helps build pride in their work. By the time students reach Levels III and IV, the classes are 100 percent production. “We have enough live work to keep them busy the whole time. I will assign students a job that they have to design, prepress and print.” Throughout the school year,Howell’s students will also be- come versed in offset and screen production. This is because www. f le xography. org
End of Year 2008