Students, teacher design Niles school pride, career development

NILES — During an Oct. 21 Niles School Board meeting, Superintendent Dan Applegate said the district talked about being one unified school — or, as he said, “one Viking” — but it needed to take direct action to get there.

The volunteer work of Alyse Hoyt and some of her students was the answer, he said.

Hoyt, a graphics design teacher at Niles High School, is creating an easy way for staff and students to access a standardized brand for Niles, from fonts to correct shades of blue and gold to mascot design. The project’s goal is to make Niles have a unified and professional appearance.

The students she teaches, particularly in her graphic design and production class, are then using her database to find the right graphics for assigned Niles schools community projects and voluntary client work catered to their interests.

During sixth-hour, senior Erin Thomas clicked away in the graphic design room, putting the finishing touches on personalized posters to be hung on student-athletes’ lockers in preparation for the post-season.

Next to her, senior Kade Wagley worked on graphics promoting collegiate wrestlers that have reached out to him for his voluntary assistance. He pulls up one on a computer program he made for a friend who recently committed to Michigan State University.

Both are part of Hoyt’s graphic design and production class, and both said they enjoy the flexibility in assignments the class offers that have a community-oriented approach.

“Ms. Hoyt encouraged me to keep going with it,” she said about her graphic design work. “I’m really into photography, so using Photoshop and different programs with that helps.”

Thomas was able to use her photography skills by taking individual and team photos for Niles’ student-athletes, adding some design touch-ups, then ordering them for those who wanted them.

Wagley has used the class to promote his skills to an audience larger than district boundaries. He said one of his proudest moments was designing a graphic for an Olympic-level wrestler, who then made it his profile photo on Twitter.

“With all the options that are available to our students, we are able to cater to their interests and their future career aspirations,” Hoyt said.

When it comes to in-district work for teams, clubs and events, Thomas and Wagley turn to Hoyt’s growing Niles brand database. Businesses, schools and nonprofits each have their own brand, complete with rules and regulations to follow.

A sports poster or logo may have certain font or shape requirements, while a student club’s requirements may be different. Yet, each style works toward an overall brand of the district.

Students’ work can be professionalized by Hoyt’s database, she said. It is accessible to staff and certain students who want to properly use the right school spirit graphics and branding.

Users can access the graphics, examples and instructions in two formats Hoyt is developing: a website and a Google Drive folder.

“One of the nice things about this piece is that if we update things, if our staff issued to going here, then there is continuity in receiving the latest, newest, most revised files,” Hoyt explained to school board members during a project update at an Oct. 21 board meeting. “There’s longevity to this document.”

Having school spirit materials helps her advanced students, such as Thomas and Wagley, be inspired and develop their own styles, too, she said.

Hoyt is no stranger to district-wide graphics projects for Niles Community Schools. She served on the committee that chose Viktor Viking as the district mascot, and she is currently working with the city to update its water tower’s Viking-inspired graphics.

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