Kristy Baumgartner Chaparral High School
ACE Class | Parker, Colorado
The students in Kristy Baumgartner’s Alternative Cooperative Education (ACE) class at Chaparral High School can see the future, and it looks brighter than ever. These at-risk students are practicing life skills while running a digital printing shop, and with a little help from dedicated staff and their state-of-the-art Roland printer/cutter, they are making their dreams real.
The class began as an outside-the-box thinking exercise last summer for Baumgartner, who directs the ACE program at Chaparral and is president of the Colorado ACE Board. “At Chaparral, we are asking at-risk students to participate in a traditional curriculum,” said Kristy. “With the challenges they already face, school is not necessarily a priority for them, so we work hard to make our lessons applicable to real life.”
When considering possible business concepts, Kristy said, “I tried to come up with an idea that would be interesting to all of us. A friend of mine does lettering, and I thought that might be a good place to start.” Kristy and her students worked with Sean McGraw, executive director of the Douglas County Education Foundation (DCEF), to write a business plan. Once the plan was in place, the students applied for jobs at their start up company.
With the many capabilities of the VersaCAMM the ACE students were able to dramatically expand their product line, producing signs on acrylic, plexiglass, aluminum, wood, and canvas.
Seeing the interest the students were taking in their new business, Sean Schott of Denco Sales suggested a fieldtrip to Fineline Graphics, a local graphics and design shop. While there the group saw a Roland printer producing an image of a woman’s face. Kristy recalls, “The kids were fascinated by the size and photographic quality of colors in the image. They said, ‘We can do that. We should get one of those, Mrs. B!’”
Taking the initiative, the students developed a plan to purchase a Roland VersaCAMM SP540V 54” printer/cutter. They solicited and received funds from DCEF and the school district. For the balance of the needed funding, they applied for a loan from Principal Ron Peterson. Sean Schott obtained a discounted price from Roland on their new VersaCAMM.
With the many capabilities of the VersaCAMM the ACE students were able to dramatically expand their product line, producing signs on acrylic, plexiglass, aluminum, wood, and canvas. They even produced art pieces and enlarged family photos. By the end of the semester, they had 80 customers. Kristy notes that with the color matching abilities of the Roland, “Our products compare well – we have set a high standard for what goes out of our shop.”
The students’ final project this year was designing and producing the district’s 50th anniversary banners. The students had to work overtime to produce 76 banners. As a tribute to the quality work the ACE classes did in preparing the banners, the district added the words “produced by ACE students at Chaparral” to the design. Kristy recalled, “That was huge. My students went from being ‘those kids’ to being the kids who did this wonderful work. We wouldn’t have been able to make our deadline without this machine.”