Bulldogs Create Designs On the Future

KHS graphic design students build their careers while beautifying Kearney Elementary School

Kearney High School junior Michaela Schmohl poses in front of the graphic design classroom.

Kearney, Mo., May 13, 2021: Michaela Schmohl knows that sometimes you have to shake things up to give the client what they really want.

Ms. Schmohl, a junior at Kearney High School, and her graphic design classmates are engaged in a Real World Learning experience designed to equip them with tangible products that will make them more valuable when they enter the job market.

In this case, the client is Kearney Elementary School Principal Mitch Masker, and the job is to design a new and large graphic that will potentially adorn the building’s main entry hallway.

“We’re using all the Kearney colors and logo and making big stickers to go on the wall to add more splash of color and creativity to Kearney Elementary,” Michaela said.

KHS teacher Angie Carmack, right, helps guide one of her graphic design students.

On a clear, crisp Thursday morning, Michaela and three other students were spread throughout their classroom, hunched intensely over black desktop computers and making careful, minute adjustments to their draft designs with Adobe Photoshop. The room was emptier than usual because the seniors were no longer in the building.

The quiet creativity at work was exactly what KHS graphic design teacher Angie Carmack hoped to see when she and Mr. Masker developed the idea for the project. It turned out to be an ideal way for her remaining students to complete this term.

“Mr. Masker let me know that he wanted to update their hallway with new graphics, and I knew immediately that this would be a great opportunity for my students,” she said. “We set the whole thing up like a professional contract, with the students meeting the client to find out what’s needed and then creating concepts to pitch.”

Michaela works on her design for the Kearney Elementary School project.

One of the most important and practical lessons that Michaela has learned is that graphic designers have to work with the expectations included in their client brief. She has figured out how to turn those restrictions into sparks for more creativity.

“We have some requirements – use the Kearney logo and colors – but after that, you can be as creative as you want and just work around that,” she said. “I’ve learned that you have to give them a spectrum of options, with one side leaning very strictly towards what they asked for and the other side leaning away from that but still using what you were told to use. That’s a fun process.”

Michaela is grateful that she’s had the opportunity to take classes like graphic design. She’s loved art and design since she was a young girl. Studying under Ms. Carmack and getting real-world experiences has convinced her that she wants to pursue a career as a graphic designer.

“If you want to actually go into the graphic design field, it’s nice to have actual experience working for a client instead of just doing stuff for your teacher and having it not be used anywhere besides just looking at as a file on a computer,” she said. “I love doing graphic design at Kearney High School because it gives me the experiences I need to create the future I want. Getting to take these classes gives me an insight into what I can do in the future.”