There’s an unlikely source of décor and inspiration displayed on a Central York High School classroom wall.
It’s not where most people would think to hang several skateboard decks — the boards without the wheels — but in the Graphic Designs classroom, the decks are more than potential sidewalk transportation.
The student-designed decks are a major project that has through the years become much more than just another design opportunity.
Students and teacher Jim Howard say it’s a much-anticipated part of the Graphic Design 3 curriculum, a service learning opportunity, a possible career endeavor, a portfolio builder, a dorm room decoration and, practically speaking, the most tangible project Howard could think of for his design students.
Senior Brandon Schofield said he has had his eyes on the decks on the walls since his days in Graphic Design 1, when he would look at the Mega Man cartoon design and the other decks designed by students before him.
He just wrapped up his own design that features scanned images of Superman comics both old and new, with his own hand-drawn Superman bursting out of the middle of the deck.
“I like having something out of it that’s not a piece of paper,” Brandon said of the project.
How it started: For several years now, Howard has had students design a pattern for the decks using computer software such as Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator.
Once the design is done, it’s sent to printers to be placed on vinyl laminate.
“The buy-in is always the hard part with high school students. Usually, an 8.5-by-11 (sheet of paper) is all I’ve got to offer. This gives them something tangible,” Howard said.
“Usually we do something with just pictures, and never go further than that,” said junior Katie Komar.
Katie went with a green-and-blue color scheme that features playing cards entwined with ribbon, as it reminded her of her days playing cards with her great-grandmother.
The deck and the printing cost about $30, Howard said, if students want to have a deck.
Beyond Central: The class project has been drawing acclaim beyond Central York walls.
A few students’ designs from last school year, plus Howard’s short essay, were recently featured in Concrete Wave Magazine, the second time the school has been in a skateboarding magazine.
And this year, a few students will donate their decks to Skateistan.org, a nonprofit organization that distributes the skateboards to children in Kabul, Afghanistan.
“How cool would that be?” Hoffman said of children in Kabul riding his students’ skateboards.
In the future, it’ll turn into a collaborative effort with students interacting with peers in Afghanistan on the design process.
The decks might be one of the best projects design students get to do, students said. They can walk into a college interview holding the deck.
Hoffman added that in the past there have been top people in the field who have taken the time to critique the students’ work, an invaluable tool.
Ironically, none of the students in Howard’s afternoon Graphic Designs 3 class said they skate.
Katie, who joked she’s a “natural klutz,” said designing, not riding, the skateboard is what students relish.
“Nobody actually rides the skateboards, but we’re all so into something tangible ,” Katie said.