MINNEAPOLIS - It could be a fashion shoot, or a horde of paparazzi, but at Edison High School in Minneapolis, the crowd of photographers consists of digital photography students who are providing a service, in addition to learning.
"As the yearbook advisor, I started seeing a lot of kids who were just using their student ID picture as their senior picture," said digital photography teacher Mark Rizzardi. "I thought, we've got to find a way to do better than that."
Students couldn't afford to have a professional portrait taken, so Rizzardi created a studio in his classroom where students could have their picture taken for the yearbook, and his students could practice their skills.
"It offers students opportunity to take pictures at low-cost, it offers students (a) real hands on experience," said senior Noura Mohammed.
She looks at photography as a hobby, or a part-time career. Right now, it's one of the best parts of her day.
In addition to taking pictures, students also design the lay-out for the yearbook, which is printed by a neighborhood business, Custom Business Forms.
Owner Frank Miske, Jr. lets the students come in and watch the final printing run.
"This is really what they look forward to coming to school for," said Miske. "They're on their own. They're small business people."
That on the job training is important to this program that is part of career and technical education, and therefore eligible for federal grant money.
Even so, Rizzardi has to watch pennies closely, trying to provide his students with an authentic learning experience on a budget.
"He's a poor man dreaming rich," quipped Miske, who cut the school a deal on printing expenses, and wishes other businesses would step up to help Rizzardi's program grow even more.
Rizzardi is working with other organizations to give students more experience designing marketing tools and using their digital media skills. He says his satisfaction comes from seeing students take a project and run with it.
For students, the satisfaction comes from having a creative outlet, or as Mohammed says, "To have something more in life."
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