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Dec 1, 2009 12:00 AM
In our first spotlight piece, we connect with Dan Vardaro from Minuteman Career & Technical High School (www.minuteman.org) in Lexington, MA.
Where do your graduating students most often go from your program (college, into the workforce, in printing/graphic arts)?
Vardaro: Eighty to 90% of our graduates go on to further education. Most students major in graphic design or printing management programs. Recent graduates have attended University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, Massachusetts College of Art, Rochester Institute of Technology, Art Institute of Boston, Middlesex Community College, and Tufts University. Emily Bawn, a student in the program, won the SkillsUSA national gold medal in graphics communications in 2002 and graduated from the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, in 2006.
What ideas do you have to promote industry participation?
Vardaro: I would like to see support from industry equipment manufacturers and software companies to help educate teachers statewide on new technology and trends. And a summer workshop, including a job fair for companies looking for potential employees. Networking with the teachers of graphic communications programs would also help address the needs of the industry.
What's on your wish list?
Vardaro: A chemical-free computer-to-plate (CTP) system, a digital printing system for printing envelopes with variable data, a new paper cutter, and a new folder to replace existing equipment. These will ensure our students are using the latest technology in the industry and prepare them for future employment.
Are local printers involved with your program?
Vardaro: We have support from local printers on our advisory committee, who have been instrumental in developing our curriculum and purchasing new equipment. All technical programs are mandated by the Department of Education to have three meetings a year with an advisory committee. Advisory members consist of industry professionals, educators, parents, and students. We discuss new technology, budgets, equipment purchases and curriculum. We are supported by the Boston Litho and Craftmen's Club — our students helped the club set up the displays and printed the program for their best of printing show, the “Gallery of Superb Printing.” Four members of the board of directors are on our advisory committee. The graphic communications program instructors are Printing Industries of America members.
What are some of your biggest challenges?
Vardaro: Reduction in school budgets statewide has been a major issue for purchasing new equipment. Also, communicating with companies that have digital printing equipment and informing them that we are teaching state-of-the-art technology. The industry has changed so quickly in the past few years, few companies realize we have this technology.
Brian Regan is president of Semper Intl. (www.semperllc.com) and helps manage the Printworkers.com job board. He is on the board of directors of the Print and Graphics Scholarship Foundation. Contact him at email@example.com.
Macintosh Lab: 24 IMacs, 1 MacPro workstation, 2 HP Scanjet G4010 scanners
Software: Adobe Creative Suite CS4, Franklin Estimator, Markzware Flightcheck, Microsoft Office, Final Cut Pro, Suitcase Fusion
Digital Printing Center: Xerox 4110 and DocuColor 250 with EFI Fiery RIPs.
Large-format: HP Z2100 26-inch and Epson 9000 40-inch inkjet printers.
Offset: Heidelberg QM46
Minuteman's Graphic Communications program provides PrintEd-certified training in all aspects of graphic communications. There are presently 34 students majoring in the program under the guidance of instructors Daniel Vardaro and Brenda Waslick.
Students design and print various printed products for towns and nonprofit agencies within the school district. This gives them real-world experiences in the job production workflow, as well as customer service experience.