School House Graphic ProductsSchool House Graphic Products students installing decals on a car. Photo by SHGP.

School House Graphic Products

School House Graphic Products Prepares Students, Builds Communities

Arnold High School students are getting more than just an education. They’re getting a leg up in the business world with hands-on experience through an award-winning student-run business.

Born to the dynamic duo of Clay and Julie Mohr in 2002 is a business that provides unique learning opportunities for Arnold’s youth. Appropriately named School House Graphic Products, this school-owned nonprofit business is a class and a business wrapped into one. It’s a student-run graphics company that functions as a real business fulfilling the needs of businesses and consumers for graphic design, laser printing, signage, engraving, and more.

Clay Mohr is the industrial arts teacher; Julie teaches K-12 art. Combining their talents was a natural extension of what they do every day as husband and wife.  With a shared passion for teaching youth, entrepreneurship, and their community, Clay and Julie set the bar high for themselves and their students.

“During the year, high school students can take School House Graphic Products as a class,” said Julie. “They must apply and interview just as they would for any job. They can also be fired if they are not performing well. Their grade is their pay.”

But because in real life business doesn’t break for summer, students may apply as paid interns to keep the business productive, also earning themselves college credit. By working year-round, School House Graphic Products produces enough to financially support itself.

School House Graphic Products provides students the opportunity to learn practical skills, preparing them for entry into the business world. The innovative educational curriculum encourages students to combine their artistic, technical, business, and leadership skills under the mentorship of teachers and business leaders.

Students work in different departments, while some also serve as department heads for areas such as CNC, printing, design, laser, and production. General manager and bookkeeper are also positions filled by the students.

“We teach the kids everything from the ground up,” said Clay. “They meet with the customer to gather information on the project, develop a plan, execute it, and bill it.” This includes everything from creating concepts to actual creation of the product to installation, oftentimes working with professional contractors or suppliers. They also offer support to other sign shops when they need an extra hand.

Students as young as sixth grade get an introduction to the business by learning basic skills like drafting. Once they enter high school, they begin to learn the business end, including working with customers, meeting deadlines, profit and loss, how to avoid product waste, etc.

Because of the wide range of services offered at School House Graphic Products, the students learn how to use tools and technology found in many businesses today. Students work with computers, digital cameras, vinyl plotter-cutters, a wide-format solvent ink printer and laminator, a laser-engraver, welders, and a 4’ x 8’ 3-axis CNC router. Computer programs used in the business are Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Correl Draw, Flexi-Sign, Vellum 3D CAD, Vectrics Aspire, and Quick Books.

Over the lifespan of School House Graphic Products, students have completed many interesting projects:

  • Built and installed 911 road signs for the counties of Custer, Logan, Grant, Thomas, Hooker, and southern Cherry, as well as the villages of Thedford and Halsey, and replacement of damaged signs in Sutherland.
  • Built trophies for the National American Miss (NAM) beauty pageants.
  • Design and application of car graphics and wraps for emergency vehicles and businesses (they just completed the Merna ambulance this January).
  • Participated in the new look of the Arnold School gymnasium by designing and applying new floor graphics, lettering on the new scoreboard, and new vinyl wraps on the wall mats.
  • The design, creation, and installation of lighted and non-lighted signs for local and regional businesses.
  • Design and production of laser-engraved plaques and awards and other items such as glasses, mirrors, stones, and paper.
  • Designed and constructed the Great Plains Communications parade floats, complete with written assembly and teardown instructions to assist the various crews in different communities.
  • Design and application of a variety of laptop wraps, gallery wraps, posters, banners, etc., for personal and business use.

Julie noted that their laser printing service is in high demand at Christmas for personalized corporate gifts with businesses bringing in gloves and stainless steel mugs for engraving.

Because of their innovative approach to hands-on learning, School House Graphic Products has caught the eye of educators and government and business leaders across the state, having received several awards and requests for presentations at conventions.

Most notably, Clay and Julie were nominated to speak at the Summit of Rural Education in Washington, D.C., in 2011. They presented their work to the Secretary of Education, the Secretary of Agriculture, congressmen, senators, and leaders of large corporations. They were the only Nebraska representatives in attendance that year.

They also received the AIM Infotec High School Intern Program of the Year award in 2013. Ironically, receiving this award presented another learning opportunity. Students prepared for the important ceremony and formal dinner by taking etiquette lessons.

“Not only are we preparing the students for life after school, we are building rural communities,” commented Julie. “Our goal is that these students will gain the confidence and skills necessary to become entrepreneurs themselves, if they choose to be, enabling them to return to their rural roots and become community leaders.”

Contact Arnold Public Schools at (308) 848-2226 or visit their website at www.arnoldpublicschools.org to learn more about School House Graphic Products.

For more information:

Contact Arnold Public Schools at (308) 848-2226 or visit their website at www.arnoldpublicschools.org to learn more about School House Graphic Products.


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Kristi Dvorak

Kristi Dvorak is a freelance virtual assistant, writer, and website creator from Arnold, Nebraska. A cheerleader for rural Nebraska communities, Kristi enjoys living the small-town life while working from home to support businesses in Nebraska and across the country. In her “spare” time, Kristi can be found cheering on her daughter in her many activities, reading, running, scooping horse poop, loving on kitties and dogs, enjoying all things Disney and Apple, sitting in the sunshine, and taking in the peacefulness of the pasture.

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