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Rolling Meadows HS Creates a Special Gift for Fifth Grade Students

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It all began with “ExploreMore” Day at Juliette Low Elementary last school year. The annual event, which provides Juliette Low students a sneak peek into various professions by means of guest speaker presentations and classes, featured the Rolling Meadows High School (RMHS) graphic design department. The team came to Low to present a class about their work to students, and the student reaction was extremely positive.

As a result of the presentation, Juliette Low’s Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) offered a great project to the RMHS students. The PTO, which has been giving free, specially designed graduation t-shirts to fifth-grade students as a graduation gift for over 30 years, traditionally used an outside vendor to create and produce the shirts.

For this school year, the PTO instead asked the RMHS graphic design team if they would be interested in designing and producing the shirt, if they could produce it for about the same cost as prior years. The RMHS class used a business model to compare prices and were able to produce the shirts for the same price.

“Our PTO would rather see the funding go towards student learning at RMHS versus a vendor,” said Deb Manka, President of the Juliette Low PTO. “The idea that the RMHS students could take this beloved tradition and turn it into a classroom business and/or graphic design project was so exciting.”

On Wednesday, October 25, the RMHS team, including four students, two teachers, the division head, and principal, took a field trip to Juliette Low to present the fifth grade students with their t-shirt gift from the PTO. It was an exciting event for both the elementary and high school students after working together for several weeks.

“The entire process of working with Juliette Low’s students, staff and PTO was an amazing experience. Everyone was so incredibly welcoming, friendly and supportive,” said Kent Dyer, Rolling Meadows High School’s Career Technology Education Teacher. “We absolutely could not have asked for a better first client and experience.”

The project gave all students the opportunity to be creative. The RMHS team merged photography, art, business, and marketing into one learning opportunity while also allowing the Low students to see and be part of all the different facets. Manka said having the RMHS students, some of whom attended Juliette Low themselves, create the t-shirts was a meaningful experience for everyone involved. It was a true collaboration of efforts between current and past students of all ages.

“Having high school students lead this project to create something so memorable for our students is priceless,” said Manka. “Our students connect so much more, having their older peers be their teacher. There was a lot of chatter with the young children on how excited they are to go to RMHS and try out all these great classes. It is definitely a full circle learning experience between both schools which will create a lifelong memory for our students.”

The shining moment for everyone was on Wednesday when the fifth grade students actually received their shirts. It was the culmination of efforts between the RMHS team, Low’s PTO and administration, and the fifth grade students.

“Delivering the shirts was an amazing experience both for the teachers and the students,” said Dyer. “It was a very proud moment to be a teacher…Our students were all smiles for the entire day.”

Juliette Low Principal Susan Ejma was also extremely grateful the collaboration. “Learning through real-world experiences are the most memorable ones. I know our fifth grade students will forever remember this and look forward to their high school experience because of this partnership. Thank you to our PTO president, Mrs. Manka, and RMHS teacher, Mr. Dyer, for facilitating this wonderful project.”

Want to see how the shirts were made? Check out this video put together by the RMHS graphic design team, and read more about the RMHS graphic design team in this Daily Herald news story.

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