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T-shirt press at CCIC offers students a route to personal expression, business know-how

T-shirts created on the new T-shirt press at the CCIC. Sometimes, the simplest messages can have the most profound impact.

Ella Mahaffy, a junior at Grandview High School and a student at the Cherry Creek Innovation Campus, knows just how powerful a straightforward phrase or slogan can be. Recently, she wore a T-shirt with an individualized message emblazoned on the front, and she saw firsthand how the words sunk in with her peers.

The phrase, “Be Kind,” was an earnest call to abide by a simple set of values, a reminder created by Mahaffy herself, thanks to a new T-shirt press at the CCIC. Thanks to that tool, Mahaffy had the chance to customize her own T-shirt and wear her values for all to see.

“I play tennis and I wore my shirt to practice. That message, ‘Be Kind,’ was a small reminder that I think will help people,” Mahaffy said. “It’s always good for people to see those kinds of messages and think about them. Those little reminders are important.”

Mahaffy and her fellow students enrolled in the CCIC’s Business Services Pathway have access to the press, which can stamp designs, logos and words on T-shirts, sweatshirts, bags and other materials, thanks in part to financial support from the Cherry Creek Schools Foundation. According to Kim Reiser, CCIC’s Business Pathway Lead, the new press has given CCIC students a new route to personal expression, as well as a platform to learn about marketing, branding and other elements of a successful business.

“I think the T-Shirt press is just one example of how we can teach our students of what it’s going to be like in the real world,” Reiser said. “We have to find a way for our students who are really looking at entrepreneurship and project management to help them bring projects to completion. This is just one example.”

While the new press won’t completely replace the need for outside vendors to create school-branded clothing and other materials, it will provide students a valuable opportunity to create individualized pieces that could be sold in a school store, a kiosk or another forum. In the past, the Business Pathway students have outsourced T-shirt design and production for their DECA chapter; the new press offers them the opportunity to put their own stamp on the club’s materials.

“Now, we can do it all. We can design it, we can order the print, we can get the T-shirts and make them ourselves,” Reiser said. “We can make them for other programs as well, and look at opportunities for fundraising.”

For students like Mahaffy, the T-shirt press has also served as a way to rethink personal expression and possible entrepreneurship. While it’s not liable to produce thousands and thousands of pieces, the press can offer first steps in gaining know-how about in-house product creation.

“It’s really important to starting using these tools at this age. The CCIC is a really good opportunity for us to start using hands-on stuff like that … It gives us a lot of new resources and it helps us further that knowledge into really doing something about it,” Mahaffy said. “I’m actually one of the managers of Grandview’s school store, so I have my fair share of clothing and designing. The press really intrigued me and I was excited to do something with it.

“I want to do something in the business field, and this pathway is helping me start,” she added.

 Posted 3/31/21 at 12 PM