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Holyoke Student Leaders are Back in the Shop!

Academics, art class & job training - the Holyoke Public Schools Transitions Academy Student Leaders are back in the shop after a year-long hiatus due to COVID.

The Holyoke Public Schools Transitions Academy supports student leaders aged 18-22 with special needs develop into an emergent adult role. They focus on various facets of life including employment, post-secondary education (i.e. functional academics, college, training) maintaining a home, involvement in the community as individually appropriate and enhancing satisfactory social and personal relationships.

Starting at the end of this March student leaders are again walking over to the shop from their classrooms at Open Square on Dwight Street twice a week. In smaller groups than before (3-4 instead of 6-8) to create original artwork and produce items for themselves and their school’s fundraising efforts all while learning social and vocational skills applicable in the jobs they’ll encounter out in the world.

For their first lesson back student leaders were introduced to the 2.25” Button Press and cutter. They hand-drew buttons for themselves and family members - learning the importance of bleeding the background past the cut line, but keeping what’s important inside the safety zone. They also experienced the hands-on magic of making buttons. Designing and printing business cards is next, and we will build on the Student Leaders’ newly acquired knowledge of cut lines and bleeds.

“We couldn’t wait to get back in the Print Shop. Our students have been cooped up for a year. Getting them back to work sites like the shop is very important to their success” said Academy Director Kelsey Brouseau. “The environment is relaxed, the lessons are fun while building useful skills; and Heather and Jeff are completely in tune with our objectives. It’s amazing to have a resource like this in the neighborhood.”

Other planned projects and processes include sublimating and ghost printing on mugs and other swag, applying cut vinyl to water bottles and other substrates, producing shirts and totes with heat transfer vinyl, and making personalized notepads with the new (but really old) guillotine and Mad Padder padding press. Classes are led by Heather and Jeff on Monday and Friday mornings and will continue throughout the summer. PSI really appreciates all the support from across the Holyoke Public School system. It is just great to have the students back in the shop learning and creating.

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