By Alicia Dziak

Before now, the Village of Springville didn’t have an official seal or custom-designed police car graphics, but that is the case no more, thanks to SGI high school art teacher, Christy Komenda, and her graphic design class. Last week, the new seal and police car design were officially presented to the Village by art students MacKenzie Engel, a senior, and Sydney Wittmer, a sophomore.

“The process began all the way back in October, when my Graphic Design Class met with Lt. Budney at which our class began coming up with designs to best reflect the Springville community,” explained Engel. “From there, we met with Lt. Budney, Mr. Wikman, Ms. Dziak, and Mr. Bialasik. We received input and collaborated ideas to apply to later graphics.”

Engel noted that after making revisions and simplifying graphics, all the students in the class began emailing their designs to Mayor Krebs and village trustees to receive their input. By winter, Engel, along with Komenda and classmate Sydney Wittmer decided they would be tasked with completing the project. Engel would tackle the seal portion and Wittmer would take on the car graphic. The two students worked closely together on both projects, offering each other regular feedback.

The three had a meeting with Mayor Krebs, Village administrator Liz Melock, and high school principal James Bialasik, to get to the heart of what the village envisioned. “After this meeting, the seal started to take shape,” Engel explained. “I put together several designs to present to the village. After months of reconstruction of this design, we finally came to a consensus of a final design.”

Engel said that the design took her about an hour a day for almost seven months straight to complete. “One of the biggest challenges involved in this project was communication,” she said. “My school schedule did not always align with the real world schedule which delayed communication and timely feedback to effectively revise the design during school.”

Wittmer agreed that the process was a long one. “I came up with at least 10 different designs with about three or four versions of each design,” she said. “After I would finish one of the designs, I would send it into the police officer I was working with and he would give me some things to change. I started to just tweak the design at first but then after many unsuccessful attempts I started from scratch and came up with the final design. I would estimate it took about 6 months to make the final design.”

Wittmer thought the biggest challenge was the communication. “Only so much can be said over email and it was very difficult to understand what they wanted in the design,” she said.

“Some of the challenges for the students as they were working on the project related to time constraints…a 40 minute period is difficult to make significant progress,” said Christy Komeda. “The other factor was timely and constructive feedback from the parties involved.  I believe that our Trustees and leadership didn’t want to ‘crush’ the students’ ideas, but also had a vision for what they wanted.  Once a face to face meeting took place with key members of the ‘seal team’ occurred, that truly nailed down target graphics is when the design really began to take shape.  I was so thrilled for the opportunity to have students have real world, adult conversations that got to the heart of what was desired for the design.”

The following is Engel’s description of the seal, which can give people an idea of just how much thought and work went into its design:

“The final seal includes a drawing of the Leland House, representing history, as well as business. The Train Depot is also included, representing transportation, as well as history and architectural significance. Also included is the Presbyterian Church, not to signify a superior religion, but the freedom of religion. This church is the one of the oldest churches in Springville, once again representing our history as a town. Springville is a very historic town, and yet very modern. The location is shown with the cross roads symbol, utilizing route 39 and the 219. There is also depicted a cross section in the middle of the seal to represent old transportation using railroad tracks, as well as a solid and dotted line representing roads. You will also see footprints following the railroad tracks, to show how Springville is a walkable town, that is in the direction of bigger and better things. There are so many great things in Springville that can represent who we are as a town, and being able to recognize all of them is no small task. Recognizing key features and objectives of Springville are what I believe to make this seal successful.”

The elements of the seal were hand drawn by Engel, then scanned in and incorporated into the seal using Photoshop.

For the police car graphic, Wittmer used Photoshop. “My first few designs were hand drawn and edited in Photoshop, but my last and final design was completely computer generated using Photoshop,” she noted. “I basically taught myself how to use the program in the process of designing along with some help from my classmate and my teacher.”

“Collaborating with not only Mrs. Komenda on a daily basis, but also with Mr. Bialasik, Mr. Wikman, Sydney and my family have also been a vital part to the success to this seal,” Engel said. “All of these people pushed me to the next level to never give up on this project, even when I doubted the process. Out of all the great people supporting me along the way, Mrs. Komenda has been my motivator and forced me to take the design to the next level. There were times when I would get frustrated with myself, the programs, and the process, but she always got me through. The lessons she has taught me throughout this project are second to none. She has taught me resilience, commitment, compliance, and most importantly to always keep your faith that everything will work out in the end.”

Of her work keeping the two students motivated, Komenda explained, “Students that value a challenge and have a level of intrinsic motivation accept and hear constructive feedback.  The students were inspired by the synergy that comes from critiques, conversations, and challenges that spur on creativity.  I value the importance of always looking for the positive aspect of any task or opportunity, this is what I hope to share with every student at any level.”

Komenda went on to explain the lessons she felt the students learned from this project: “I love the book ‘Do Hard Things’ by Alex and Brett Harris.  This book written by two teenage boys; at the time, shares their perspective on the fact that we don’t give youth enough opportunity or credit to complete adult responsibilities in the United States.  Though when given the chance and are challenged to do ‘hard’ things they will and they will surpass even what we as professionals could ever imagine.  As a parent and teacher this has changed how I view the tasks students can achieve.  MacKenzie and Sydney both took away that drive and desire, no matter the task can be accomplished with determination.  I believe they also learned how artists make decisions, how to maximize effort with technology in short amounts of time, effective and honest communication skills, and the confidence to create.”

It seems Komenda’s influence has gone well beyond this specific project, as Engel has recently decided to attend Ball State University in Muncie, Ind. and become an art teacher.

“My ultimate goal for after college, is to make my dreams a reality by becoming an art teacher,” Engel said. “At the conclusion of my college years, I will be content in the pursuit of reaching that goal. My goals after college do not focus on the solid reason of just having a job, but rather having a purpose. College is going to prepare me to become a role model, supporter, inspirer, and motivator, just the same as all of my teachers have been to me. Being able to possess these qualities and impact a child’s life is what will give my life purpose, through a college education. Without the guidance of Mrs. Komenda, I would have never found my true purpose in life, which is to teach.”

Engel continued, “This school has one of the best programs for my major. I will be the third generation in my family to attend BSU. I might be far away from home, but I hope to come back someday to hopefully teach in my hometown. I am willing to make the move far away if it means I can be an even better teacher in the future.”

Komenda, who is clearly proud of her students, said, “MacKenzie in a very conscientious student who has grown significantly in her confidence.  Over the past 13 years I have known her as a student that has risen to the top in the creative arena.  She is excited to try new media, work for understanding, help other students grow, hold teachers accountable, and initiates her own artwork outside of the school community.  MacKenzie will be an amazing art educator, she knows what it takes to be successful and is willing to dedicate the time to meet that success.  I hope to have her on staff with me right here in Springville to add to the dynamic art educators I work alongside each day.”

Wittmer, who still has two years of high school to go, plans to be a physician’s assistant.