Hampton Middle School print studio promotes teamwork, charity

Monday, March 23, 2020 | 12:01 AM

Once they return to school, students at Hampton Middle School use the in-house print studio to collaborate, create and raise money for a good cause.

The middle school opened an art print studio two years ago for students to utilize for classes or for enrichment, according to HMS Principal Dr. Marlynn Lux, who presented the program at a March school board meeting.

She said the print studio is an exciting space that promotes critical thinking, collaboration and teamwork. HMS art teacher Lisa Woods said the eighth-grade works in the studio as part of their rotation class. Sixth and seventh grades use it during their tutorial time. It’s also opened to all grades during morning enrichment time.

“It’s a space where they can create and enjoy hands-on activities,” Lux said. “We really took our art program to a new level.”

The HMS students can sell their creations through their nonprofit, online business called Hampton Creates, at www.hamptoncreates.com.

All of their profits go toward a cause of their choice. This past semester they chose Angels’ Place Inc. in Pittsburgh, a nonprofit that offers programs and support to single parents.

Over the past year, they also raised money for Wounded Warriors’ Projects. And last year they donated toward Butler County Humane Society and Light of Life Mission in the Northside, said Woods.

So far, they’ve raised more than $500 toward their nonprofits this year, said Woods.

The print studio is unique within itself, said Woods. This year they had a school T-shirt design competition using machinery that allows students to create and print onto wearable art, said Lux.

Student teams in each grade came up with a design to put on a shirt and the student body then chose the winning design, according to Dr. Michael Silbaugh, vice principal at HMS.

Silbaugh said students can wear these shirts to school events or field trips. Grant funding allowed them to print the shirts, said Woods.

The students are divided into teams at the middle school with two interdisciplinary teams per grade level to better support student social, emotional and academic needs, said Lux.

“The middle school teaming concept is a very powerful one,” said Lux.

The purpose of teaming is to create a school within a school, more or less, she said.

The on-team teachers and school counselor collaborate often with one another to ensure students are meeting success. The T-shirt design project was to not only encourage student creativity and critical thinking, but to also promote team building and provide the team with an identity, said Lux.

Students also sold the shirts at the Handmade Arcade, an event held in December at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh where independent businesses can sell their products.

Lux said this provided real-world experience by interacting with real customers, selling products and making transactions.

“I think it’s important to make school fun. Exciting, fun relevant. This studio really shows that,” said Lux.

Woods said the print studio is well used.

“You walk into the room and it just oozes creativity,” said Woods.

Karen Males-Benson, an educator at the middle school who assists with the print studio, said students are excited to be there.

“They explore. They experiment. It’s very open-ended. They truly enjoy it. They come in with the most exciting designs,” said Males-Benson.

Olivia Hoffman, a seventh-grader on the Explorer Team, had a compass on her shirt during the recent school board presentation.

Alaina Pursh, Kevyn Fish and Aliza Michelli of the seventh-grade Challenger Team worked together to produce a kind-theme design on their winning shirt. Pursh said their design had the phrase: “Don’t let people try to change your mind. Challenge yourself to be kind.”

Other winners were sixth-grader Dylan Biddle for Blue Team, sixth-grader Nick Bailon for Gold Team, eighth-grader Livana Lekas for Lewis 8 Team, and eighth-grader Reed Perry for Clark Team.

The donations go a long way for their philanthropy choice. For Angels’ Place, the funds will go directly toward helping provide high-quality early education, child care and family support to single, student parents who meet low-income guidelines, according to Beth Banas, executive director for Angels’ Place Inc.