Warren Elementary School fifth grader Graham Schaefer won a student T-shirt design contest and will have his winning design for sale on T-shirts at Splinters Board Shop in Warren. Proceeds from the T-shirt sales will go to the Warren Skatepark. Harwood Union Middle School (HUMS) Extended Learning-Work Based Learning coordinator Katie Kenney worked with Travis Kerr, owner of Splinters, to conduct the contest. Graphic designer Ryan Dreimiller came to talk to HUMS students about what makes a good T-shirt design as well as what led him on his path to be a graphic designer. Students then made a slideshow about graphic design that they presented to all HUMS students. A group of students visited the Generator maker space in Burlington, where they learned about Adobe software and how to actually make T-shirts.


Then, students got to work designing their own T-shirts. One student asked if her younger brother from Warren Elementary School could enter; he ended up winning. Sixty-three students voted on the designs. Kenney said about 20 students participated in the contest, but voting was open to all students and all HUMS students saw the student-created slideshow, so the whole school was involved. Kenney said the process imparted transferrable skills, such as public speaking (when giving the presentation), problem solving, collaboration, and attention to detail, as well as what it means to be a graphic designer.

“Katie approached me with the idea of some kind of design project. We are fortunate to have a big fanbase with a lot of local kids. We've actually been given a few art projects and drawings involving Splinters over the years,” Kerr said in an email. “We picked our favorite, that happened to be a fifth grader. I scanned the original drawing into Adobe, traced and colored the pencil shading in a way it could be screen printed, but keeping it as close to the original as possible. The design already had the Warren Skatepark tie-in so we figured we could do a small run of tees and stickers and donate any profits to the skatepark. We're stoked to be able to connect with the community in another way outside of just being a retail store. Thanks to Katie and all the kids for having us involved!”

“We had the whole community coming together,” Kenney said. “The kids loved it.” She said she hopes to do more collaborative projects like this in the future.