PHS graphic design program receives aid

PARKERSBURG – Computers donated to Parkersburg High School from a Virginia program will be used to expand the school’s graphic design program.

Michele Binegar, a computer graphics teacher at PHS, said school officials picked up 30 refurbished computers last week in northern Virginia courtesy of a program that refurbishes surplus hardware and donates it.

The Virginia Student Training and Refurbishment program (VA STAR) provides refurbished computers to families and organizations. The program is administered through Prince William County (Va.) public schools. VA STAR is in 20 school districts throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Forest Park High School in Prince William County, where Binegar taught, is the model site. Binegar used her Virginia connections to secure equipment for Parkersburg High. She estimates school officials got a $20,000-$25,000 lab donated to the school.

“It’s a full system,” she said.

Before returning to the area, Binegar, a Pleasants County native, taught for five years at Forest Park, an information technology specialty school that provided three veins of coursework: networking, programming and graphic design. The program was open countywide with students applying to attend, Binegar said. She wants to build a graphic design program at PHS similar to one she left in Virginia.

Through her contacts Binegar was able to secure 30 computers, keyboards, cords, mice and 25 monitors from the STAR program for use at PHS to bolster the graphic design program.

“It was a pretty good haul,” she said.

Binegar sought computers with enough power to support the design software. She credited Chuck Drake with finding applicable computers and rebuilding them to suit her students’ needs. Binegar’s classes teach Photoshop, editing skills and how to combine images. She said graphic design is the new wave of art.

“It’s a whole new element,” she said.

School officials drove to northern Virginia last week to pick up the computers. They are in storage at the school as officials look for the best place to set up shop.

“We are trying to find a place to install them for optimal use,” Binegar said.

In her second year at PHS, the program has almost quadrupled in size.

“We had 22 kids last year,” Binegar said. “This year, I have 90 kids over three classes.”

She is hoping to grow the program into six or seven class periods.

“Once other students see what we are producing this will grow,” she said.