An Introduction

This blog is to introduce you to the general idea and atmosphere of CPI as a Career and Technical Center. I want people to hear about us, and not in the old “tekker” kind of way. Career and Technical Centers are amazing institutions of learning; students leave here with certifications that adult students pay for. When students graduate they leave skilled workers ready to join the work force, or planning to continue in their field of study through post secondary education. Instructors are skilled and knowledgeable in the fields they teach, and enjoy helping students find a place in the field they have chosen. There is nothing here to make me feel that the old connotation of “tekker” holds true.

So over the next year, I hope you will follow along and see what happens in my classroom, what students are doing, where they are going, and how they plan to get there. I’ll also be allowing students to blog along with me, so you can get their side of the story too. My main goal is to educate and inform the general public about what we do here and how we do it. I hope to be entertaining, and humorous, but most of all I hope to be honest. It’s not always easy, and it’s not always fun, but it is ALWAYS worth it.

Best Regards,

Yana Boyd

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Return to the Real World

The Holiday break was nice. Spending time with family and friends is always refreshing.

As I said in a previous blog, the holiday break can be a blessing or a curse on class determination. This year the curse came on strong. Even though I had high hopes while watching students progress through the projects, the first critique date was missed because they were not fully prepared.  I tried to be optimistic about what kind of work that would be shown when we returned for the rescheduled critique. I had hoped the students would use some of their down time in an effort to be ready for an important critique.

The first day back, "NOT PLEASED" was my phrase of the day. I was admittedly disappointed with the majority of the final projects my afternoon class presented. After a rather unpleasant critique and a very intense classroom discussion we went into a lock-down mode. I was unsure of whether myself or my students were to blame for the botched projects. So I decided that class would be no fun for me or them. I don't like to have that kind of atmosphere in the classroom, but sometimes it's necessary. I want them to enjoy learning but I also want them to understand the consequences of not being a productive worker. CPI is meant to prepare students for the real world of work, and although I have a few students who remind me I am not their "boss", I do have to prepare them what a real boss may be like.

I assigned a three page paper on one of six Pop Artists I presented. There was no sitting near friends, no idol chat, just quiet and keys clicking. After the paper was turned in we started back in on packet work for Illustrator and Photoshop. The students have been on their best behavior and have been working diligently. I hope to get back to a point soon where I feel comfortable with giving a bit more freedom. This will take time, being that they will need to earn their freedom and be able to handle it while producing good work.

With all this being said, I want to say that I am really proud of my students the majority of the time. This was the "oddball" that happens once in a while. I have extremely talented kids who sometimes forget that they still need to work to meet expectations. I hear a lot of things about this generation of students, but I can tell you with the right motivation and direction these kids are capable of great things. I am looking forward to the next project so they can prove me right.

Meet KP

Hiya! My name is Katherine, but my friends call me KP and I’ve been known as KP since the fourth grade. Anywho, two of my favorite things in the entire world are dancing and photography. I have been dancing since I was three and it allows me to release all of my frustrations in a creative way. I feel like everything I have ever had a hobby in was of the creative nature. For example, when I first tried photography, I fell in love. No, not figuratively, literally. It is something that I have invested a lot of time, money and effort into. I have a $1200.00 Nikon D5000 digital SLR camera. It came in a packaged deal with two lenses; one that is 18-55mm and one that is 55-200mm, and a Lowepro camera bag. Sounded like a perfect thing for me. Right? Wrong. I have had so much trouble paying for it. I had a part- time job and they only scheduled me where they needed me and some weeks I wouldn’t get a paycheck at all. Nevertheless, I kept my head up because I could finally do what I loved with somewhat professional equipment.  My camera though, is still only half paid off. 

                But in happier news, I love my time here in graphic arts. It is also a creative outlet for me. It is very challenging, but also extremely rewarding. When you’re sitting at the critique board and everyone has very little complaints about your project, you can’t help but smile. You get such a sense of satisfaction when you feel you have done well on a project.
                We have done everything in this class from writing papers, to hand work,  to working on the computers on Adobe programs, to sitting at our desks, answering “if” questions and laughing while exercising our minds. I can’t see myself being in any other classes besides coming out here to CPI in a relaxed atmosphere, doing work, and pushing myself to do well. I always look forward to getting here and being with the most creative people I have ever met. Because when great minds get together, sometimes there is a clash of opinions, but usually fantastic things happen. Something peculiar happens in this class, though. At my regular school, it’s a dog-eat-dog world, and everyone only looks out for themselves. Here, it is a little different in the fact that everyone helps everyone else with their problems. Mrs. Boyd rarely has to get involved. 

                Another thing that really excites me is that Mrs. Boyd entered me into a district photography competition with a program called Skills USA. But the even better thing is that there is no category for photography in the district competition, but there is in the state competition. So now I get shot to the state competition. I’m very excited to go and see what I will have to accomplish. Until then, I have a lot of work to do. I hope you enjoyed reading my spew.

Nice talking at you,

Friday, December 17, 2010

And the Countdown Begins.

We have seven days until Christmas Break. I am not going to try and hide the fact that Holiday breaks are a great perk of teaching. I’m also going to say that in the world of teaching they are completely necessary. I don’t know if the breaks throughout the school year are more helpful to the teacher or the student, but regardless… YAY for the Holidays.

My afternoon students are still engrossed in their book cover and poster designs. We had a rough critique (rough critique does not mean that it was hard or awful, it means they created an early draft of what they believe the project will look like and we discuss its direction) and the majority of students were on the right track. With a few suggestions from their peers and myself I feel as if a good number of the projects have a chance for a positive critique.

I need to give an account of the afternoon room atmosphere. As the critique date draws near the student’s heads get closer and closer to the computer screens as they work. I swear a few of them almost had their noses touching the monitors. Sometimes I wonder about their eyes (and mine) being so stuck on the screen for hours on end. But in the long run it is part of the job. I guess only the future will tell what kind of affect it will have on our vision, but I suppose we can all hope for medical advancements to counter the balance for the majority of workers who are glued to a screen for 8 hour plus.

My morning students are currently working on a project dealing with symmetrical and asymmetrical design. They are creating a symmetrical design piece using their principles of design. After they have inked the design, I will make a copy for them and they’ll use an exacto knife to disassemble it and use the pieces to create a new asymmetrical design to be inked. The works will be mounted on a single board to display the difference between symmetrical and asymmetrical design using the same forms and linked principles. It is a very tedious assignment, and execution is key in producing “A” work. I am looking forward to seeing the completed work, and even more so for the critique.

So, I am going to go in a different direction for a little bit. This blog so far has been all peaches and roses, but there is always a down side to a job you love and the following is my down side.

It is about this time of year when students begin to decide if this is the class for them. Sadly not every student who initially has a desire to join my class ends up staying past the first year. I can only enhance a student’s natural ability through direction; I am unable to hand out the natural ability needed to do well. I don’t like watching a student struggle through critiques due to the quality of their work especially when I know they truly did try. But I also can not allow a student to be coddled into believing that “it’s good enough” because in this industry, good enough will never get you “the job”. Honesty in the design world can be harsh, but I am never intentionally cruel. I think spending two and half hours a day for three years in a class that is not well suited for a student is much crueler than being honest about ability.

All people have something that they are really good at and can be passionate about, sometimes it’s art and design and sometimes it’s not. Telling a kid that this may not be the field for them is really difficult, but they usually know it before I say anything. It’s just that they love the idea of CPI so much that leaving here doesn’t seem like a viable option. CPI leads to a freedom and personal responsibility that the home schools just can’t offer. Thankfully we have 18 program areas and allow students to check out other career options offered here. I have had students leave my room only to excel in other programs, and I have had students join my program after leaving another only to find that this is the path they were meant to take. CPI is really an amazing institution, and once students have a taste of the atmosphere here; it’s difficult to go back.  

All in all even the down side is not all that bad. It’s just about finding the right thing for students. The majority of them are able to find something that’s a great fit for them at CPI.

I am going to stop for now and resume next year. Hmmm… I don’t know why I typed that, I’ve never cared for that joke from teachers when I was in school. Like I said, it’s time for a break.


Meet Jordan

Hi my name is Jordan Walizer, I enjoy Graphic design, and love coming to CPI. At first I wasn’t quite sure about the whole CPI thing, I was dreading maybe not getting along with my fellow classmates, or not enjoying the work, but boy was I mistaken. Graphic Arts has been an outlet that allows me to plug into it and release my artistic urges. I took part in many arts classes which passed the time by, and I enjoyed very much, but it just wasn’t enough. So finally my parents convinced me that I should go, and try it out, they seemed so sure, they had to know I would like it. So the very first day was slow and boring, I knew Mrs. Boyd was running through class rules, and the syllabus wouldn’t reveal anything that would show me whether this was for me or not. But the second day was the real mind changer, we started on our first assignment, and right off the bat I had learned something new, I knew then that this class was 100% for me. I still doodle at home school, but not nearly as much as before, my teachers notice it too.
Our first set of projects and assignments dealt with learning how to create positive and negative space, then we moved on to principles, and elements. Up until just recently all my projects and assignments have been "A's", that is, until the last assignment. The objective of the assignment was to draw an instrument and depict what sound it seems to make and draw that too. I drew a Guitar, it looked nice, but the sound wasn’t  great it was a rose vine entangling the guitar. After critique I knew it wasn’t an A project. This brings me to my next paragraph…critique.
I had no idea how we would critique in this class at first, but after the first critique I had it down, it was fun being able to criticize others work in a good and bad way, all for the soul purpose of helping them realize their flaws. Critique is an extremely helpful way to make you see your own mistakes, and what you have to change. Critique also helps us with our presenting. You have to be able to stand up in front of the class, and not only explain your own assignment, or project, but also others work as well.
At the moment we are all working on a project that requires you to use symmetry, and asymmetry. I’m using different types of principles in my project, like flow, unity, and correspondence, I’m also using geometric elements. I think my symmetry turned out pretty good. I expect the same for my asymmetry piece. “HA” I guess only time and critique will tell.
Not only is this class fun and interesting, it also has an extremely calm and peaceful environment to work on assignments and projects. The class itself is amazing as well. I guess when you put a group of people with the same interest and views in the same room, your bound to form a wonderful class relationship. This is how I personally feel about our class; I don’t think you could ask for more friendly and hardworking classmates to work alongside of. All of us try our hardest to improve each other in every way we can see, whether it be a line out of place, or an unintentional dot on the paper, we do our best to help each other with our work each and every day here at CPI.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Attacked by Christmas toys? That's strange.

December is always an interesting month in our class room. There is an air of excitement flowing around the room in anticipation of the approaching Holidays. Sometimes students can get lazy around this time of year and begin to slack on class effort. In order to escape this classroom disease I had to come up with a way to keep it from entering our atmosphere.

So when we returned from Thanksgiving break I gave my afternoon students a choice: continue on the book work and get through our Illustrator and Photoshop lessons or start a new project. I am not going to pretend I thought there was an actual choice here, but I like to give options. “PROJECT” was pretty much screeched back at me the minute it left my mouth. GREAT! Truth be told, I like project work as much as they do.

The two projects I assigned will also be used in the PA Computer Fair. The second year students are creating a book cover for a short story of their choice using their acquired skills in Illustrator. The third year students are creating a Poster for a cause of their choice using their existing knowledge of Photoshop. This is a twist on projects I have given to previous classes, normally I choose the short stories and cause that I ask them to focus on, but because of the Computer Fair I wanted the students to be fully immersed in the work. Nothing allows for possible drowning like letting them choose their own topics.

Now it’s “Go Time”… research, research, research, thumbnails, roughs, comprehensive and finals. I am looking forward to seeing their ideas for each project. I required a one to two page paper with a synopsis of the story or cause they had decided on, and every student picked something different. This means the critique board should be crowded with a huge diversity of styles and design direction. We plan to critique these two days before Christmas break begins. This critique will be intense, and that is the way I like it. I hope everyone is adequately prepared.

The next day is our Christmas Party which I look forward to every year. We are planning a White Elephant Gift Exchange. I think it’s going to be so much fun. We will be having pizza which my students won from SKILLS USA Can Drive. And then, as every year since I started teaching, we will all sit on the floor with blankets, pillows, and party munchies and watch “The Nightmare Before Christmas” and talk about the brilliance of Tim Burton.

I love the Holidays. 
Mrs. Boyd

Meet Bryce

Well here goes…. My name is Bryce! I’m hyper, loud, incredibly good looking and I love what I do. I’m an aspiring graphic designer/photographer, in my second year of Graphic Arts at CPI. With intentions on better preparing myself for my future career, I considered this class as a ninth grader. My tenth grade year approached and I was required to make my decision of whether or not to join the amazing adventure of a class that awaited me. The decision was difficult because it was at first was based on the idea of being considered a “Tekker”. “Tekker” is a stereotypical term which refers to students who go to CPI whom don’t excel at their home school. Fortunately my creativeness overwhelmed my insecurity and I decided that I was here to silence that stereo type! 

The first day of the first year brought excitement, which was only amplified by two of my best friends from regular school who joined this same class. Together we were the “Creative” ones within our home school. Though not always appreciated by teachers, our creativity was made obvious through our class work. Every assignment we completed was decorated with images inspired by our brains and that we found around us. The creative outlet that is Graphic Arts calmed our excessive illustrations greatly. Once able to get out some of my creativity within our CPI class, I was now able to focus more on my home school work, which improved my grades significantly. 
The beginning of my second year was an awkward experience that I was fortunate enough to share with 17 strangers who were as equally uncomfortable. The “First Years” were now Second year afternoon students who had to merge with the third year afternoon students. After temporary resentment we learned to accept each other and found we all had common interests and goals.  And by the third month we were a family. Learning and improving one another was our new routine. And I’m glad to have made some new friends. This year has also brought me new lessons and projects. For example I’m working on making a book jacket for the short story “The Lottery” (a story suggested by my ever helpful teacher Mrs. Boyd). The task is to make the book jacket have every detail that comes with actual books (barcodes, summaries, authors, ext…). I’ve already completed my thumbnails with success, I was able to come up with a lot of really good ideas that both my instructor and I found appealing.  
All in all I’ve had a really great experience thus far. I’ve learned so much about design. Handmade and computer generated, Graphic Arts has brought nothing but good experiences and fond memories, and I hope to make so many more.  
loove me,

Monday, November 22, 2010

It can't be that time already!

I had the most puzzled face when I read the email regarding reporting grades for the first marking period. What? Really? Has it been 9 weeks already? I could have sworn we were only here for 5 weeks at the most. Needless to say this school year is zipping by.

My afternoon class has finally merged and once again we have a fantastic working atmosphere. I am very proud of their commitment to learning the material. They are a very mature group who use one another to promote creative thought while accepting each others differences. They communicate extremely effectively for their age group. The morning students are also coming into their own as a class. Regarding early critiques, they are the best class I’ve ever had. First year students normally take (at least) 3 marking periods to become comfortable enough to effectively critique each others work. But not this class, by the second critique they were off and running. I am very impressed with their ability to be considerate and constructive.

The first year students are concentrating on understanding the basic principles and elements of design. They are primarily using the design process to create final pieces of positive and negative design using radiograph pens. They are focusing on mastering the use of tools to create clean lines, flat black, quality cuts, all while beginning to understand the importance of communicating their ideas with design vocabulary.

My second year students are learning Adobe Illustrator CS5, while my third year students are getting an in depth introduction to Adobe Photoshop CS5. This year CPI has made a great investment in the software we use in our room, and now we are able to work on the most up-to-date Adobe programming in class and at home. YES, I said AT HOME!

Adobe CS5 is the industry standard in design and rather expensive software. For the last 5 years my students have been able to learn these programs in class but were unable to work on these programs outside of CPI. This was a rather large headache for students who were absent as there is very little down time available to play catch-up. With the new online software, a student with internet access at home can remotely access the programs using a log-in & password. This also permits students who finish the assigned work to enjoy “playing” with the programs. This “play” allows for further understanding of the programs while students enjoy working on their personal design ideas. As the instructor I am able to access all the accounts to assess student work. As a precaution students are only able to print from the online software in our classroom.

Because this was a new venture for our class and CPI we had a few bugs to work out in the beginning. It took a few weeks to get things up and running smoothly, but I believe this advance will be extremely beneficial to the students. 

In other news, our class is looking forward to competing in The 2011 Pennsylvania Computer Fair. My afternoon students worked individually to create logos for the 2012 event. We spent almost three weeks producing logos that were critiqued in class. We had 6 designs which were chosen by myself and the students to advance. These logos will be further processed and when we return from break they will be critiqued again. One design will be selected as the entry to The Pennsylvania Computer Fair for the Logo Design category. We also plan on submitting entries to the Graphic Design category, Text-Based Desktop Publishing category and the Digital Movie category. For more information on the computer fair you can visit

Oh, I hope to update this blog more regularly from now on.

Enjoy your Holiday Break.
Yana Boyd

Meet Jasa #1

My name is Jasa Jeffers, also known as Jasa #1 in this classroom, considering the very strange coincidence that there are two of us. I am a third year student at CPI in the Graphic Arts program, which has been the highlight of my high school career and the most beneficial decision I have made regarding my future. I decided to attend CPI when I was a freshman in high school and had the opportunity to tour the building and explore the different programs. I will admit, like most students that choose to come to CPI, I loved the idea of getting to leave my high school for half a day. When I learned about the Graphic Arts program, I knew that an escape from traditional classes and being trapped in the same building all day would not be the only benefit to my decision. My peers have always considered me a creative and artistic person. I am known to put my best effort into most everything I do, and making things look nice is kind of my obsession, whether it be making sure there is perfectly equal spacing between my lines of type in a research paper, or creating a design for a project we do in class. Overall, I feel that my decision to be a part of the class has helped me understand what I love to do and will help me become one of the few, lucky people that move on from school to love their jobs, like Mrs. Boyd

Last year, when I was a second year student, I was very familiar and content with the environment which I was surrounded with in our classroom. Our class consisted of 15 VERY different girls, and against all odds, we enjoyed each others company and were able to have a lot of fun together our first two years at CPI. This is exactly why the idea of bringing seven new students into our class made me very nervous. Also, it was very different because, when we moved from our first to our second year, and started coming to CPI in the afternoon rather than the morning, there were only two students that had not graduated from the previous year’s afternoon class. Therefore, there were only two students that we weren’t already completely comfortable around and had to get to know. Much like when we combined our class with the two of them, having the new second year students as part of our class was rocky at first. We divided ourselves into two separate groups of people and didn’t make much effort change that; but, somewhere along the way, we became a whole, and I came to like the second year students much more than I had expected. It’s still amazing to me how, through all the changes, with all the completely different people with completely different personalities and interests that make up this class, we remain drama-free and maintain our friendly environment. It’s very rare, and I absolutely love it.

When we were first introduced to the Adobe programs last year, we learned via packets and projects. The packets were a pretty effective way of learning the material and I’d say that I gained a really good understanding of Adobe Illustrator in that way, but the packets from which we were doing everything were falling apart and difficult to read and in black and white. That is why this year is SOOO MUCH BETTER with our new books and programs! 

Although we all wanted to harm our computers and pull our hair out at first, due to the few technical difficulties we experienced, we are very lucky to have access to the brand new versions of the Adobe programs, which we can even access at home. How convenient! (: The major problem with completing our packets in the past, aside from the spontaneous decision for us to design the entire CPI yearbook, was that students were missing days of school and would have to take class time to catch up, and were then behind compared to the others. This almost completely eliminates that problem, and keeping up with our work and staying on track with the others, even if we miss a day or two, is much easier now. The only downfall of having the new programs and books this year is that I LOVE Adobe Illustrator and I’m very jealous of the second years, who get to learn the new version with all the awesome new tools and features with the new books. ;)

The most exciting part of class so far though, was the Computer Fair project, because it was the “biggest deal” when it comes to the projects we’ve done this year. I was kind of dreading doing the project at first because when you’re designing a logo for the “Pennsylvania High School Computer Fair,” you’re pretty limited on graphic elements to include in the design, and most of us went in the same exact direction with it; computer, keyboard, mouse, Pennsylvania.. exactly what you would expect in such a logo. Although I stuck with this idea, I worked really hard to make it interesting and I was proud of the design I ended up putting on the board. Also, I found out that I wasn’t the only one who was happy with my design when I received a very good critique from the other students and my design was one of the six chosen to move on! Speaking of critique, it was super intense this time and I think reality set in for anyone who hasn’t been contributing their best effort toward their work. This is exactly why critique is one of my favorite parts of class, because it gives you the opportunity to be brutally honest and know that others are going to do the same for you. The feedback might not be what you want to hear all the time, but in the end, it’s very beneficial to know what you should continue to do in a design and what you should never even think about doing again.

In five minutes it will be but a bus ride until Thanksgiving break. Even though I’m very excited to stay up all night and sleep in all day and spend a lot of time being lazy and eating amazing food, I will miss my beautiful class and my beautiful teacher, as I always do when we have breaks in school. (What will I do when I graduate in June?!) At least I will be reminded of the classroom when I’m working on modifying my computer fair logo during my little vacation! Enjoy the holiday and wish me luck! (:

Peace & Love,
Jasa #1

Friday, October 8, 2010

Meet Katelyn

My name is Katelyn Bolich. I am currently at CPI for the Graphic Arts program under the instruction of the wonderful, Mrs. Boyd. Being here, I've learned a lot in the past 2 years, and plan to continue to grow. I am one of four kids in my family and have been homeschooled all the way through my academic career. Being given the opportunity to come to CPI has not only taught me about Graphic Arts, but it has sent me into the world of public school classes, getting me ready for college in the near future, as it is my senior year (Woohoo!).

It definitely helps to love what you do for a class like this, because you need to push yourself as much as possible to beat the other designers. During my freshman year I completed a majority of the credits in my general education classes, so there wasn't a whole lot of work for me to do for my junior and senior year. Because of this, I was given the chance to combine the remaining classes I needed and skip my junior year and graduate early. But I felt that 

  1. I didn't want to grow up to early.
  2. There was no way I was going to cut short my time in Graphic Arts.
I really love this class and didn't want to shorten it to two years instead of three. So this year, having just a few credits, I get to spend much more time focusing on my CPI class. It keeps my mom from being driven crazy by my aimless walking around the house, and I enjoy it, so it's a win win! Also, I have free time to do things like this blog. (No, this does not help my grade, but I'm glad to be able to do something like this for the school and for this class.)

I've been lucky to have a great class, teacher, and program. Two years, 15 girls in a classroom, and no cat fights! That's one in a million! We've all been able to learn off of each other and push each other to our potential. 

One of the most important things we do in class is critiques. Many feelings are derived from this word. This is where we put up or work on "the critique board" and we go talk about them one at a time and give our input on what is good in the design and what needs work. This helps you to learn from your mistakes, and see what was good and what wasn't. It also helps us with critiquing, because in this field, you need to be able to present your work and prove why it is a good design and should "get the job." As for me, I enjoy critiques! I'm usually pretty happy with my projects, so it makes critiques much less stressful, and it's fun to be able to give you input about the other designs on the board. 

Our beginning projects are to get used to the Technical pens. They're a bit tricky to be clean and accurate with, so first we just learn how to control the pens. Then we're able to move on to learn to use them for things like positive and negative space, and how to incorporate principles into a design. After we master the technical pen, and learn the basics, it's time to get on the computer. The first program that we're taught is Adobe Illustrator; a program that allows you to create illustrations using vector graphics. These we learn using books with step by step instructions to show you the programs abilities. They're not exactly the most exciting thing in the world, but it's an adequate way to learn the programs and they books are Adobe certified. Then we're able to have fun and do projects, like making zoo signs and such. For our second year we continue to learn more programs like InDesign and Photoshop. Right now, I'm in the process of mastering Photoshop so that I can combine the programs to create page layouts and corporate identities and stuff that has yet to come to my knowledge.

This year, the class dynamics are a bit different. Being seniors, we stay in the afternoon class while last years morning students (now the Juniors) moved up to our class. Initially it was a bit concerning to see how our classes would mesh, but after the first project we all came together and were able to create an even stronger class than before with different personalities and points of views to bring to the table.  So far, it's been a good year and I'm excited to see what is next.I'm looking forward to the rest of the year to see where it goes. As for now, I'm off to work on Adobe Photoshop packets to  prepare for the projects ahead.

 'till then