Raider Ink is not a typical high school class. Instead, the Frontenac High School program is a student-based business and a campaign to make the world a kinder, nicer place.
It was started during the 2011-2012 year by Eric Gudde, Frontenac Public Schools technology education teacher, during his planning time.
The class first provided a screen printing service to Frontenac school teams and organizations at discounted prices, but then community members started asking for items, and an assortment have been on sale at Frontenacrs Convenience Store.
“We make T-shirts, vinyl signs, posters for school, award plaques and license plates,” Gudde said. All of these items are made with donated technology. “We have $65,000 to $70,000 in technology, all donated,” Gudde said.
That includes computers for designing, silk screen printing equipment, even a laser engraver that can do engravings on glass. “We can do almost anything, to a point,” Gudde said.
One thing students can’t do is put rhinestones on shirts. They don’t have a machine for that. This year the program is a formal class and more changes are being made. “We have a web site and we’re getting into e-commerce, with a shopping cart,” Gudde said.
He believes this will make it more convenient for customers in the community, or around the world, to access Raider Ink merchandise. Last year any money made through the sale of products went back into the program. This year that will change.
“We’re starting Raider Relief,” Gudde said. “For every item sold, $1 will go to Raider Relief, maybe to help kids get warm clothes or clothes to help them fit in, which is a big part of being a kid. The thing now is not to make money, but to make money to give back.”
There’s also a character education plan at FHS, and Gudde said that the Raider Ink students will lead by example in their “Pass It On” program.
“They’ll have inspirational wrist bands, walk around, do something nice for somebody and pass on a wrist band,” the teacher said. “We’re also doing inspirational signs.” The class has also been getting lots of community orders to work on.
“We’ve had orders from Celebrations by Lori for T-shirts, and Lori Horton recently ordered a banner from us,” Gudde said. “Via Christi just asked us to do their 2014 calendar, which will be distributed in October.”
“I’ve got six students this year,” he said. “I don’t know how big we want to get, but it’s a good problem to have.” Gus Brunetti, now a senior, has been with Gudde since Raider Ink started.
“This class gives a student an opportunity to learn graphics and prepares them for college and what classes like this can do for them,” Brunetti said.
He’s not sure if he wants to go into graphics, business or even English at college, but is still glad of his involvement with Raider Ink.
“Just being with this class has helped me understand the business world better,” Brunetti said. Rachel Herring, also an FHS senior, also finds the class a good experience.
“I like to do design more than actually making the product,” she said. “I’m definitely considering this as a career and may study at Pittsburg State University.”