Northwest NEWS

October 1, 2001



Bouncing art and flying words

by Bronwyn Wilson
   In Mr. Hopp's class at Woodinville High School, students draw circles and then make them bounce. This fun exercise is one of the basic foundations taught in the computer animation course at the school's high tech learning lab. In the beginning of the course, students learn to create a visual effect of a ball bouncing. By the end of the trimester, the students have mastered the skills needed to animate a story.
   Computer animation is one of several high tech courses offered this school year at the new WHS High Tech Learning Center. The course teaches students how to animate ideas on the computer. Walter Hopp, Technology Department Head, teaches the course in addition to other high tech programs, such as TV Broadcasting and Digital Video. Of his classes, Hopp said, "We open doors and we build a foundational understanding." The courses prepare students for industry certification or advanced training in post secondary education. With the exception of Computer Animation, all of the courses are new as of last year.
   In TV Broadcasting, students present a KOMO news-like show over closed circuit TV. "People don't want to hear the news, they want to see the news," said Hopp. The class delivers the news and other important school information to their fellow students. The news show is complete with weather reports and Public Service Announcements created by the students. "All that is bundled in a five minute broadcast," said Hopp.
   Hopp teaches the basics of video on digital camera in his Digital Video class. Students learn editing, colorizing and how to make words fly on the computer screen with video editing software.
   Using a mix of computers with Mac operating systems and others with Windows based systems, the high tech program offers many choices. For example, students have the opportunity to earn college credits through a program called Tech Prep. It ensures students' entrance to higher levels of learning once they start college. Said Hopp, "College credits are earned and available to students who successfully complete the program and maintain a B."
   The advantages of college earned credits benefit the student as well as the college. The students save tuition costs and time, and the colleges receive students ready for advanced level courses. "In most college settings, many introductory courses are overfilled," said Dennis Milliken, Director of Career and Technical Education for the Northshore School District. "Our students come to college ready to take those advanced courses."
   According to Milliken, high school students in the district earned 1,705 college credits last year, at a savings of $84,000 had they taken the same courses in college.
   Satellite programs are open to juniors and seniors in the Northshore School District with Computer Service and Network Training as well as Digital Video based at Woodinville High School.
   Online learning is another option. Students wanting to enroll in Visual Basic Programming have the choice of taking the class at home or wherever a computer is available to them.
   Chris Stampe, teacher at Inglemoor High, currently has four or five WHS students taking his Visual Basic Programming class through the Internet. Inglemoor also has a new computer lab.
   Stampe converses with his students by e-mail and assigns homework electronically. "I can say, distance learning takes some discipline on the student's part. Some need face- to-face interaction," said Stampe. He has about 30 online students.
   The High Tech Learning Centers are the result of a partnership with area community and technical colleges in cooperation with eight other local school districts that comprise the Northeast Vocational Area Cooperative. Initially, one centralized building was considered to house the high tech program for a consortium of 28 high schools.
   "When we first talked about this, we talked about it as a brick and mortar structure," said Milliken. But the commute of numerous students on the Eastside, plus the cost of commercial space, posed a problem.
   "We moved from the concept of one site to three sites. Then we thought, why don't we deliver this in each individual site?"
   An education course guide provided by the Northshore School District states that the high tech programs prepare students for careers in information technology working in companies like Microsoft, Boeing and Safeco.
   Hopp said that students learn the fundamentals in preparation for potential careers in Web Development, Video and Editing and Producing Film.
   Grants obtained to fund the program include the Technology Innovation Challenge Grant, the Fund for Improvement of Education, and $1.1 million from the state Legislature.
   Contributions from corporations helped the program reach its $4.1 million budget.