In what may have begun as a way to keep three restless high school students busy, Henry County High School earned a little statewide recognition last week.
On Jan. 14, the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet recognized Bryant Mitchell, Michael Veenstra and Luke Clark for winning a contest to redesign the cabinet’s Kentucky Teen Tech home page.
“Basically, what we did ... (was) go in and design the entire Web site,” Clark, 16, said.
Veenstra said the trio created the site from scratch without using a template or editing software. “We went straight through a text editor,” he said.
“Basically, we’re freaking awesome,” Clark joked.
The site took the students about six weeks to complete and was a true collaboration. The group came up with a variety of ideas, put them into action and tested the final product. The students used cascading style sheets for the site, which they said is a uniform style that will work on a variety of Web pages. From there, they “made it look pretty,” and utilized both self designed and found graphics.
Veenstra, the students joked, was the “grammar nazi” of the group, but also helped with the Kentucky state logo.
The students are part of Randy Mitchell’s basical html class, and they joked about the reason he gave them the assignment. “Mr. Mitchell gave us this assignment because we were being disruptive in class ... (he) kind of gave us this to shut us up, and I don’t think anybody thought we’d do this well,” Veenstra said.
“I had no clue we would win,” Clark said.
Joe Morgan, with the Kentucky Office of Career and Technical Education, said the project originated through Education and Workforce Development Cabinet Secretary Helen Mountjoy. “The idea was that she wanted to attract students to our Department Web site, to create some segment of the Web site that’s visited on a regular basis,” Morgan said.
The seven submissions were judged by committee, and Morgan said the scoring criteria were in the contest guidelines.
Randy Mitchell said the students are stars in his Web design class. “They have a bright future,” he said. “I enjoyed being with them. I’ve said this to everybody who congratulated me, these three are smarter than I am when it comes to Web design. They teach me stuff everyday.”
Mitchell said at first, the students didn’t seem to enthused by the project, but he pushed them toward the goal.
“After this? Any competition? We’re happy to do,” Bryant Mitchell said.
Mountjoy said the Cabinet is very excited about the project. “We wanted to let more students know about the opportunities that are available through career and technical education,” she said. Having a Web page designed by students, she said, also demonstrates the skill of the students in the program, and adds a “student touch.”
“We’re really proud of the work you did, it’s top quality,” she said. “It looks really slick and clean, and it’s really easy to navigate.”
Each of the three students plans to pursue a career in technology.
Mitchell said he’s considering a career in administrative internet security.
Veenstra said he’d like to pursue information technology for a big business. “I don’t want to work for a computer business, there’s nothing special about being an IT guy in a smaller business,” he said. “There’s a certain untouchable thing about being the IT guy in a Fortune 500 company. That, or I’d like to do counter operative security for the government. I’d like to hack legitimately.”
Clark however, said he’d like to be a game designer or game programmer. “I’ve always wanted to build something from nothing and let everybody out there enjoy my stuff,” he said.
Mitchell too said he enjoys making something from nothing, and having a “completely open and creative feel.”
Clark said there’s a certain joy in watching people use something he’s made. “It’s not just the whole creative thing, it’s the sheer joy of owning people in the end,” he said. “It’s kind of fun to see older people say ‘I couldn’t do that when I was your age.’”
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