By Pete Rivard It is also -- drum roll please--the state's first high school all-digital print program! June 23, 2005 -- I'm about to write a sentence that I've never had the opportunity to write before. Here it is: There's a high school in Minnesota that is starting a graphics program. Gosh, that felt good. I think I'll write it again. There's a high school in Minnesota that is starting a graphics program! Lakeville H.S., on the southern edge of the metro area. In the past two decades we've lost the majority of this state's high school graphics programs to funding cuts and teacher retirements. My local school lost one of the industry's pillars of high school graphics education, one Gary Gronquist ("Gronny" to generations of students) to retirement last year. The guy who taught small engine repair is now the "graphics" guy due to arcane tech-ed seniority regulations. You can imagine how fired up he is about mastering a brand new and baffling skill set at the age of 50-something. Somehow, the intricacies of your basic Briggs and Stratton engine just don't transfer. So, if this article's title read, "High School in Minnesota Closing Graphics Program," that would be business as usual. But then, ODJ probably wouldn't even run it. Anyway, back to our state's newest graphics program. It is also -- drum roll please--the state's first high school all-digital print program! How that came to pass is a story in itself. My role in the story began with Carla Steuk, the Education Coordinator from the Printing Industry of Minnesota (PIM) inviting me just last week into the planning process. The process had already begun with an RFQ going out from the Lakeville people to some local PIM contacts. Somebody actually drew up a proposed equipment list with a two-color sheet-fed press and a digital plate setter with processor, among other components. The Afternoon of Enlightenment The concept of an in-house all-digital print shop for banners, signage, programs, calendars, etc. had the school's accountant leaning way in to the conversation. A two-color offset press? Plates? Chemistry? Plumbing and compressed air? Had someone taken leave of their senses? The normal high school class is on the light side of an hour long! Show me the lesson plan that leads a student through hanging plates, inking up the press, running the job and wiping up in 55 minutes! Now, I admire the technology of offset printing as much as anyone on this planet, but if we're going to get kids fired up about printing at the high school level, let's let them see their images within five minutes of hitting the Print button in the desktop application. Once they get that graphics bug they're mine! They can run the big presses and hang plates to their heart's content in our six-hour labs at Dunwoody. So, the next meeting of the Lakeville H.S. graphics planning committee found yours truly at the table, a revised equipment list in hand, with a Xerox 3535 and a wide-format ink jet as the center pieces, along with an array of finishing devices to cut, fold, staple, hack and crush. I'm happy to say that a couple of local dealer reps were there with some supporting suggestions and solid estimates and that the entire Lakeville crowd bought into the concept. The concept of an in-house all-digital print shop for banners, signage, programs, calendars, etc. had the school's accountant leaning way in to the conversation. So, in September, the new graphics guy at Lakeville, who actually is a graphics guy and probably can't tell a Briggs and Stratton from a Tecumseh, will proudly open the doors on this state's newest graphics program and the only all-digital outfit of which I am aware. And Dunwoody is ready to matriculate any of Lakeville's program graduates right into ours. While we're waiting for his stuff to show up, he's been invited to hang with us at Dunwoody, plunder our lesson plans and work next to our students in our Print Services Center. If anyone reading this article wants to strike a blow for digital print education, you can step forward and donate an underused viewing booth or a new hand-held spectro or a box of loupes, or a year's supply of Exacto knives or a wad of $100 bills. Just contact me at my email address and I'll arrange the details. Hey, did you hear the one about the high school that is starting a digital print program?