NSHS Media Arts: Part 1

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Last year, Barbara Narkhus, an educator for over 20 years in the Salem-Keizer School District, set out on a mission to provide her students with the best possible preparation for the technology focused job market.

The significant district budget cuts five years ago resulted in NSHS’s art department losing all photography and graphic arts classes. Any class involving computers and cameras could not be taught without the needed funding.

“Schools don’t teach the way I did 20 years ago,” stated Barbara. “In October, 2013, SKEF sponsored a professional development seminar with NewTek’s LightWave 3D technology taught by Education Specialist, Graham Toms. I didn’t become a believer until one of my hardest working art students, who was flunking math at the time, came up to me and asked if I could help him pass his math class because Graham had shown him how important math and science were to art. He just graduated this June.”

Lightwave 3D technology is a graphics design software that is used in blockbuster movies such as Avatar, Jurassic Park, Lord of the Rings and Finding Nemo. Math and science are incorporated into the design through scaling and programming. Without an understanding of the predicted dimensions of a Stegosaurus, Jurassic Park could not have designed it for the movie screen correctly.

The seminar was such a hit with students that Barb decided to teach an after school program. She did not have enough computers with the Lightwave program to offer it to all of the students interested. It was at this point that she realized she had to find a way to permanently implement this technology into the arts curriculum.

Keep reading our 35th year of stories to find out how Barb succeeded in bringing media arts back to NSHS.