- Last Updated on 07:25 AM 11/21/12
- BY Special to the Gazette
Spring 2009, Stephen Woltz was a senior at Halifax County High School when he decided to take a new dual enrollment class being offered at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center. He had no idea the graphic arts class, taught by Halifax County newcomer Ben Capozzi, would change his life.
“When I took Ben’s class I knew I wanted to work with film, but I didn’t know exactly what. His graphic arts class really solidified that I wanted to do something with digital communication,” Woltz said.
After graduating in the top 10 of his class, Woltz went to Virginia Tech where he majored in communication with a concentration in film. Arriving at Virginia Tech, he found that one semester class at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center had given him a significant advantage in his courses.
“The class definitely helped me. When I arrived I was already used to the software, while a lot of people at Tech had never used it before.”
Because of dual enrollment credits, Woltz completed his bachelor’s degree at Virginia Tech in only two years. After earning his degree, Woltz returned to Halifax County and was hired as the high school’s graphic arts teacher.
Only two and a half years after coming to the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center as a student, Woltz began teaching the same Graphic Arts class in the SVHEC Innovation Center.
“The Innovation Center is a great resource,” Woltz said. “It has a great learning environment, labs and technology. I think the students are more motivated being in a college setting.”
In his class, Woltz teaches HCHS dual enrollment students the basic concepts of visual communication.
“I try to give them a basic understanding of visual communication in a digital age.”
He emphasizes that those not considering a career in digital art, design or communications can still benefit from taking his class.
“Digital communication is a very marketable skill no matter what line of work you go into. Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator are only tools — the point is to increase a students’ digital competency,” he said.
After taking his graphic arts class, many of Woltz’s students become more interested in the field. For those individuals, the Digital Art & Design program at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center offers a career pathway leading to a career studies certificate, an associate degree or transfer opportunities to a four-year university like Virginia Tech, VCU and Longwood. With a career studies certificate or associate degree, students have the skills needed for entry-level positions in graphic design, video production, multimedia creation and much more.
“Students need to understand that with this line of work you can work from anywhere,” Woltz said.
In the spring 2013 semester, Woltz will be teaching Graphic Arts I, II and yearbook for Halifax County High School students.
Web Design I, intro. to computer graphics, and video Techniques will be offered for adult students through the Digital Art & Design program at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center.
The Digital Art & Design program at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center is offered in partnership with Danville Community College.