HELL'S KITCHEN — The soon-to-be-shuttered High School of Graphic Communication Arts is taking one last shot at proving their career-focused education model by creating their own small business in hopes to garner support for the school's educational model.
The Career/Technical education school at 439 W. 49th St. has partnered with Community Board 4 to launch the HSGCA Print Squad — a print shop run by Graphics Students aimed at providing low-cost copies, posters, flyers, brochures, and business cards to local non-profit organizations in Hell's Kitchen.
The school currently partners with over 20 work sites around the city, including AIDS education nonprofit FACES NY, where students get on-the-job training, and has over 200 students working in paid internships.
The on-the-job know-how hasn't changed the school's failing grades: Graphics is one of 24 low performing schools that the Panel for Education Policy voted to shut down under the "turnaround" program last week, allowing the city to fire up to half its teachers and reopen it under a different name in the fall.
The current principal, Brendan Lyons, will stick around during the transition because he only started his tenure there in September.
"This new initiative is exactly the direction in which we need to move all students to directly sync the school day experience with actual working world conditions," said Lyons.
"We are giving our students a competitive advantage — while still in high school — to secure high-paying jobs upon completion of college four years from now."
The new Print Squad will work with CB4 and the local community to advertise their services to nonprofits, providing them print work for roughly half the cost of job at Kinko's or Staples.
"Our work is very competitive," said Peter Nieznalski, the school's Print Coordinator. "What we charge is basically just the cost of the supplies we use up."
For each project, Print Squad students will get hands-on experience from start to finish, desgining each element and eventually printing it themselves.
If the program proves to be popular, the on-site shop could continue work during the summer, if the DOE allows it.
While the DOE's plan for Graphics remains unclear, the ongoing initiative to secure more work experience for students is a sign that the school, under Lyons, will continue its career-focused approach to education with the support of locals.
"I'm completely supportive of Graphics' efforts in engaging and working with [nonprofits] in Hell's Kitchen," said CB4 chair Corey Johnson.
"Brendan Lyons has proved to be a huge asset to the school and I look forward to supporting the students and administration in their efforts."