Bringing creativity to Lenape's computer curriculum
MANOR - Two years ago, Ed DuPaly came to Lenape Area Vocational Technical School with a decade of experience in advertising and digital technology and an ardent desire to teach students the fundamentals of the field.
There was only one problem: DuPaly didn't have the com-puter equipment necessary to do so.
"There wasn't even a computer lab here two years ago," said DuPaly. So DuPaly told LAVTS administrator Dawn Kocher-Taylor of the things he needed to develop student skills in what he described as a quickly burgeoning industry on the national level.
"There are more technical-type positions available today (in advertising and digital technology) than there are workers to fill them, and my goal is to help breach that gap," said DuPaly.
Kocher-Taylor responded by writing two grants to the Bureau of Career and Technical Development for $100,000 over the past two years. The money helped LAVTS acquire various industry-standard computer equipment and software, and they also were able to hire an in-class instructional aide for students.
The result today is LAVTS's very own Academy of Com-puter Technology.
"Now there's a multi-media computer lab with 24 lab workstations, and four more for digital video work," said DuPaly.
"(The Academy) involves training focused on advertisements and digital technology, encompassing Web site and graphic design and image editing elements of business today."
Keeping up with the rest of today's business world is what prompted Kocher-Taylor to heed DuPaly's requests.
"It's very important, as we renew curriculum, to align it with both the developing needs of modern industry and the need to provide our students with the type of training to get quality jobs," said Kocher-Taylor.
"Mr. DuPaly is the key to the revitalization of the program; any time we've provided him an opportunity, he's responded."
The fruits of the program's upgrades are particularly evi-dent in the accomplishments of four students: senior Amanda Crawford, 18, of Cowansville, junior Stephanie Cates, 17, of Gilpin Township, and foreign exchange students Katrin Wohlgemuth, 17, of Austria and Britta Bergholz, 17, of Germany.
Since January, Crawford has interned with the Armstrong County Chamber of Commerce and was presented with the task of upgrading the Chamber's online Web site, armstrongchamber.org.
Chamber executive director Jodi Sysyn-Myers couldn't be more pleased with Crawford's work.
"We had a malfunctioning Web site, and Amanda was able to take the existing document and upload it into a new format, and we've since been able to further upgrade the site," said Sysyn-Myers.
According to Crawford, much of the headway she was able to make with armstrongchamber.org came through what she learned in DuPaly's classes.
"Most of my ideas came from just working with it and being creative, and she helped me along with it, too, and Mr. DuPaly's always helping me, giving me some ideas," said Crawford.
Cates recently won the Point Park College Web Design Award for designing a Web site for Kennywood Park's Phantom Fright Nights.
Cates said she used creative skills and computer design ability she learned through her classes to design the site.
"I really enjoyed working on the project," said Cates. "It's just one of the many digital design projects we do in class."
Cates also placed third in the logo design contest at this year's Pennsylvania High School Computer Fair held at ARIN Intermediate Unit No. 28 in Indiana County.
"I've always liked art, I like to be creative and be able to design things," said Cates. "I like putting the graphics together and I like coming up with slogans and stuff."
Arriving at LAVS in August, Wohlgemuth had no prior experience with the field of web design before beginning DuPaly's classes.
"I discovered it here," said Wohlgemuth.
However, she's already designed a page for Franklin Village Shop'N Save's fourth Annual Emergency Services Day. Wohlgemuth is currently creating a Web site for Camp Cadet, a state police-sponsored program held annually in July at West Hills Elementary to give kids a taste of police academy training.
Wohlgemuth also placed second in web design at the Pennsylvania Computer Fair Contest.
The experience Bergholz has received in graphic design through the Academy has her thinking of a career in the field when she returns to Germany.
"I want to be a graphic designer," said Bergholz, who was also introduced to the field here and submitted a webpage of her own for the Kennywood Fright Nights competition.
"I think doing webpages is fun."
And that's just the attitude that breeds success in this field, according to DuPaly.
"The students that do well have a creative side; they are the ones that create the webpages that look nice and have a personality to it, what we try to do is give them the technical equipment and know-how on how to use the stuff," said DuPaly.
Sysyn-Myers said she's interested in forming a cooperative venture between the Chamber and LAVS to host a different student from the Academy each semester to help them hone their graphic design and Web site generation skills.
"Our budget is such that we we would not be able to afford a full-service Web site, so by partnering with Lenape, we'd be cutting corners and giving students opportunity at the same time," said Sysyn-Myers.
"This is an industry that Armstrong County should encourage students to get involved with, because through it they can really find work anywhere."
DuPaly said he would be open to Sysyn-Myers' idea.
"I would support that, I think it's just a matter of having a continuing discussion with her," said DuPaly.