This might sound like the backdrop at a film studio or design firm, but career technology students at Cartersville High School are receiving real-world training in a variety of career fields that center around the latest technology.
Career technology pathways range in topics of instruction from health care to the automotive industry as well as learning business models and the visual arts.
This article will highlight graphic design and video production -- two of the school's many career technology pathways that put students in front of industry-leading technology.
Valerie Webb teaches graphic design, where students are taught traditional and digital design concepts utilizing Adobe Creative Suite CS5 software on industry standard Apple hardware.
Webb said there are three classes and an internship included in the pathway, and students are exposed to careers in the print and design industry on all levels, learning the technical skills needed for these careers as well as ethics, employability and critical thinking skills. She said graphic tools and applications include digital image editing, color correction and photo retouching with PhotoShop, vector-based drawing in Illustrator, page design and layout with InDesign and design-to-print workflow with Adobe Acrobat Pro.
"I interact with students one-on-one through their computer screens and with the whole class on our SMART Board," Webb said.
SMART Board is the brand name for an interactive whiteboard that allows teachers and students to share media through a projector.
Webb's class also handles all printing jobs for the high school. For example, the class is currently designing prom tickets.
"Digital photo editing is a favorite of students," Webb said. "I teach photo restoration and have students who really excel...and there's a big market for (photo restoration)."
Yuri Kouznetsov is a senior and is "interning" for the third time during Webb's advanced graphic design class. He is responsible for making and delivering copies of documents to the entire staff at CHS.
"I've always been interested in the business side of graphic design," Kouznetsov said.
Kouznetsov also has to bind and finish copies post-production to make them acceptable as classroom sets.
"[Yuri] takes on a lot of responsibility," Webb said.
Ariel Henderson, a senior, said she originally became interested in graphic arts after taking drawing and painting courses at CHS.
"I like being creative and making things, but I don't have the dexterity," Henderson laughed. "I use a computer to create my version of art."
Webb said one element that sets CHS apart from many other schools in the nation is that it is a "Google school."
She explained that students have Google accounts through the school and that teachers post standards for their classes on their individual websites on the school site, giving students the opportunity to access materials remotely.
Marc Collier teaches video broadcasting and video production. He said his classes not only teach students a new skill and introduce them to a possible career, but do so by incorporating other academic skills learned in school.
"The hook for the students is the finished product," Collier said. "The skills students need for video broadcasting and video production are the skills they've learned in academic classes. [The students] don't realize they're doing math, or having to use English or incorporate historical components."
Collier said video students follow a state-approved curriculum that integrates academic standards into a hands-on experience. He said students that complete the pathway should possess portable skills such as storyboarding, camera usage, lighting, and editing upon completion.
During their time at CHS, video students film, edit and produce a school-wide variety show that incorporates sports, student life, clubs and a variety of other school-related topics.
Collier's classes fill up fast, and are only offered to juniors and seniors. He said only the most well-behaved students can become "video kids" because of the responsibility involved in the pathway.
"If you have behavioral or attendance problems, you won't get in my classes," Collier said.
Collier said students are often left unsupervised during class time because they are off shooting video around campus for an upcoming project.
"We go out and do stuff instead of just sitting in a classroom and learning from books," senior Savannah Atkins said.
Senior Grace Tate said she enjoys the editing aspect of the class as well as choosing the format for the school-wide variety show.
"We try to time our show with what's going on at the time at school and in the news," Tate said.
Collier said students who take his classes often go on to major in journalism or broadcasting in college and some have gone directly into doing cinematography work, shooting video for weddings or churches.
Most importantly, Collier said, is the classes give students a helping hand toward graduation through hands-on learning that incorporates other academic skills.
"We're really proud of (our students)," Collier said. "And our taxpayers should be proud for funding these programs. When you put [students] in a situation where the academic skills come to life and are used in a way that makes sense, it clicks."
Principal Jay Floyd said all career tech courses at CHS utilize the most current technology when instructing students.
"One of the highlights in education today is technology, and my goal as principal is for students to have top-of-line technology," Floyd said. "In both of those programs, students are learning career skills through top-notch technology."