A group of Los Angeles high school students guided nearly 100,000 younger pupils through a printing exhibit at the Los Angeles County Fair. But when the 17-day fair experience ended Sunday, it was the students who had learned the most.
Eighteen students from Manual Arts High School and 12 from Wilson High were back in their regular classes Monday after conducting hands-on demonstrations at the Pomona fair for elementary and junior high students.
"Our students got the opportunity to practice their skills and share their knowledge with others," said John Santos, a Manual Arts High graphic arts teacher. "This increases their pride and self-esteem and builds their self-confidence."
The students also got firsthand experience in printing, one of the biggest industries in the state and a field that might employ some of the students someday. The exhibit was sponsored by the Printing Industries Assn. of Southern California.
Maria Solis, a 16-year-old Wilson High student, said that when she gets a job, she will probably "end up doing something in the printing field."
Santos said that in "today's MTV world," it is harder to catch students' attention. He said he succeeds by showing them how printing relates to practically everything in today's society.
"Now they know how to appreciate the work that goes into a good-looking poster or the fact that even the toilet paper we use, the little designs and the dotted lines were done in a print shop," said Santos.
Student Luis Hernandez, 18, said that besides demonstrating his printing skills at the fair, he "got to meet people whom I would never have talked to before. It was a good experience."
At the exhibit, the buzz and hum from printing presses mixed with the voices of young students who clamored to work on an antique press.
"With the kids working the booth, it [was] high energy," said Santos.
Taking graphics arts courses boosts the students' other academic areas, such as math and reading, Santos said.
While students are involved in printing projects, "they read more because they have to proofread them," he said.
"I tell students that before they become a lawyer or a doctor, they have to support themselves and pay for college," said Santos. "One good way of doing it is by working in printing. It pays good money."