Students earn college credit through art classes

<p>A faux movie advertisement by Pendleton High School senior Dylan Riggs is on display with other graphic art student pieces at the school district art show, which is open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. today at the Pendleton Convention Center.</p>

Budget cuts have not stopped Pendleton High School teachers from giving students a chance to earn college credit for sharpening their visual art skills.

Since 2010, PHS graphics arts and photography students have received credit through Mount Hood Community College.

Senior Daylon Gwin said learning how to use graphic arts tools such as Adobe InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop will come in handy when he attends Mount Hood Community College to pursue a career designing either video games or logos.

About six students take the one-credit, half year graphics class each year — but not all of them plan to attend art school. Senior Wesley Terry hopes to apply the design concepts he learns in class to a career as a pastry chef.

Gwin has taken the course since he was a sophomore. Students can take the elective as many times as they want — which comes in handy since practice is the best way to master design software, teacher Gia Weathers said.

Weathers learned this firsthand when principal Tom Lovell asked her to teach the class in 2005, despite her lack of design experience. That summer, she pored over graphic design books and bought the Adobe Suites package to learn the photography and page design skills she would teach her students in the fall.

In 2010 she started teaching the class for college credit.

That same year, Weathers started splitting her time between the high school and middle school when the district chose not to hire a replacement for middle school art teacher Sally Sundin, said assistant superintendent Tricia Mooney.

But the district did not cut the art program and does not plan to. Students must take three credits in fine arts, career technical education or foreign language classes to graduate, said Lovell.

For both the photography and graphic classes, students pay $35 for one college credit that transfers to any state university or community college in Oregon.

Artwork from the photography and graphic art classes is on display at the Pendleton School District art show. It is open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. today at the Pendleton Convention Center.

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Contact Chris Rizer at crizer@eastoregonian.com or 541-966-0836.

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