Thanks to a creative collaboration by Wenatchee Valley College professors, the 9/11 Spirit of America Memorial Committee has an updated website and professionally developed marketing strategy to better promote their work and engage the community. Best of all, students led the process and now have a finished product to show prospective employers.

This partnership demonstrates the power of working together to serve needs in the community by using outside-the-box thinking. The Spirit of America committee is thrilled with the result and pleased that the students had a meaningful experience.

Our community college has a wealth of talented teachers who consistently push the envelope beyond “that’s the way we’ve always done it” in service of creating opportunities for students to develop critical skills.

The Spirit of America collaboration was initiated when board member Lisa Day, a local real estate professional with great marketing skills, saw that the nonprofit’s approach to communication needed to be updated.

She called her friend Jennifer Korfiatis, a marketing professional and full-time professor at WVC to see who might be hired to redevelop the website. The nonprofit, which has developed a world-class memorial of the events of 9/11 in Cashmere, doesn’t have much money for such things.

9/11 Spirit of America website

As it happens, Korfiatis and the team in the graphic arts department had been looking for an opportunity to develop a real-world opportunity for students that combined Korfiatis’s marketing class with the second-year graphic design students of professor David Hampton. Hampton has a wealth of real-world experience, having worked in various markets and with clients on gourmet food packaging and marketing as well as healthcare marketing and design. The other two graphic arts professors, Arius Elvikis and Elena Payne, also are steeped in real-world experience, which is such a huge benefit for WVC students.

That collaborative working relationship and the shared desire to give their students a live client experience was a dream come true for the 9/11 committee, said Day.

During winter quarter, Korfiatis’s marketing students did research, toured the site and developed a marketing plan. That plan was then handed off to the second-year graphic design class, where two students, Nicole Warren and Danielle Johnston, took the lead in working with the 9/11 committee to develop a powerful new website.

Korfiatis, Hampton and Day all made a point of marveling at the fact that most students working on the project weren’t even alive on Sept. 11, 2001. The committee taught them about the significance and impact and the students helped translate that experience into a more compelling and interactive website.

Hampton is an interesting guy. He’s the son of Oden Hampton of East Wenatchee. After graduating from Eastmont, he went to WVC and was mentored as an artist by the legendary Bob Graves, who encouraged Hampton to pursue a graphic arts career rather than one in painting.

Graves was a gifted painter and also a wonderful teacher of students. Hampton has followed in Graves’ footsteps by continuing to do some design consulting while inspiring students to hone their skills and techniques in class.

Hampton believes, and I fully agree, that the art department of Wenatchee Valley College under Scott Bailey is one of the great treasures of the institution — an underappreciated and undiscovered diamond. When Bailey arrived on the scene, the arts department was at a pretty low ebb and he has worked tirelessly to develop a collaborative and experienced team of adjunct and full-time professors. Both the talent level and the shared commitment to inspiring students is extraordinary for a community college.

I hope the leadership at Wenatchee Valley College will put a high priority on supporting these kinds of efforts and unleash the potential of the great professors at the institution. This project is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what is possible.

First of two columns. Part two Thursday: What students learned from the 9/11 Spirit of America project

Rufus Woods is the publisher emeritus of The Wenatchee World. He may be reached at rwoods@wenatcheeworld.com or (509) 665-1162.

Rufus Woods is the publisher emeritus of The Wenatchee World. He may be reached at rwoods@wenatcheeworld.com or (509) 665-1162.