Pen and Ink Remixed; Tech 2.0
Henrico Warrior Nation is made of big brained, big idea, big vision, big community collaboration kind of folks. Despite cutbacks in federal and state funding, especially for graphic art programs, the Henrico High School students have begged, borrowed, and fundraised a 24-student Macintosh graphics lab. Hooray! Our curriculum teaches job skills like product design, page layout, video editing, podcasting, claymation, storyboarding, and chroma keying. And if that isnít fun enough, thereís urban art making, character design, 3-D architectural design and portfolio building. Oh, and of course the annual community art festival. And the collaborations with the Virginia Holocaust Museum. And our annual walk-about field trip study of famous local architecture. Whew!
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We stay busy, have fun, and are doggedly determined to stay ahead of the proverbial technological curve by slowly acquiring scanners, printers, software, lighting, and video cameras. This year, we are participating in several global collaborative projects. One of them is the National Rotoball Project. Students will use computer-aided design programs to animate themselves catching a ball, having a meaningful interaction during which it transforms, then passing it off to another student from another state/country. The kids love animating, so this is the perfect mix of technical skill, drawing skill, and global collaboration. In short: this requires computers, video equipment and editing software, animation software, and graphics tablets with drawing pens. Yowza. Good art can be so expensive. The good news is that we have ALL of these things except for the tablets and pens. We need help purchasing 26 Wacom Bamboo Fun tablets and pens, which will be used specifically for the rotoscoping project, plus every other project that we do this year (projects include a Photoshop magazine cover, logo design for local company, program design for local theater group, collaborative portraits with low-income populations in African and Central America, and a special sister-school collaboration with Hope Resurrection School in Kenya). They will be a tool to help teach technical drawing and hand-eye coordination, but will also give students the ability to express themselves in great detail and variety in a digital medium. 5 classes will use the Wacom tablets every single day, all year long, making art for school, community, and personal joy.
Our school is ethnically and economically diverse, which has both its benefits and drawbacks. The teachers work tirelessly, encouraging students to be our partners in meaningful learning experiences. Part of investing in education means investing in what happens to kids outside of the K-12 system, so we think in terms of long-term skills. Teaching young people how to think critically, and then how to appropriately and engagingly express what they think is what we do in the art classroom. Our favorite way to do this is to involve our parents, younger siblings, friends at other schools, and community representatives in our art making process. We are SO excited to be collaborating on multiple national and international projects this year, taking our learning experience to a new level and managing how we contribute to the larger global voice. Be our personal Superman. Help us keep our little Graphic Art Shangri-La thriving. The students will proudly receive your support as one more caring adult in their community, and will gladly respond with both appreciation and pieces of their personal art to say thank you for all that you do.
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