Arnold Schwarzenegger, the muscleman turned actor turned politican who served as California's governor from 2003 to 2011, toured Venice High's School's Super Shop 9 during an open house to celebrate its new $3 million state of the art printing facility.
Schwarzenegger toured the facility for more than an hour Saturday and was assisted by students as he printed a Venice High School t-shirt and helped operate the facility's new four-color printing press.
Super Shop 9 has been home to the school's graphic communications program since 1956. Longtime Super Shop 9 instructor Art Lindauer applied for and won a $1.5 million Proposition 1D grant from the state in 2006 and then lobbied for five years to receive a $1.5 million matching grant from the Los Angeles Unified School District.
Lindauer applied the grant money and matching funds to a complete overhaul of the printing shop, which now includes the four-color Speedmaster printer manufactured by Heidelberg, a two-color Printmaster, a high-speed guillotine cutter and screen printing presses. There's also a computer lab for graphic design that features a classroom full of Mac computers and a 65-inch HD TV with touch-screen capabilities. Lindauer and printing professionals believe that Venice High School is now the best equipped high school graphics printing program west of the Mississippi and Schwarzenegger said he thinks it's the best in the country.
Schwarzenegger was invited to the open house for his support of Proposition 1D, the $20 billion bond measure to repair and upgrade public schools. About 150 people attended the open house Friday despite the stormy weather and Schwarzenegger was joined Saturday by a few dozen students and family members. Venice High School Principal Elsa Mendoza and LAUSD board member Steve Zimmer also attended.
Lindauer thanked Schwarzenegger for his efforts to get Proposition 1D on the ballot and told the crowd that Schwarzenegger was the only Republican he's ever voted for.
"I fought very hard during my administration to rebuild our schools and to elevate our education system," Schwarzenegger said. "We passed in 2006 infrastructure bonds, but I made it very clear to the politicians in Sacramento that I would never sign any of the bonds if we don't also have money available for career tech education."
Schwarzenegger called Venice High one of the special schools in the state that gets students ready for higher education, but also prepares students for careers, such as printers.
"There are thousands of jobs that we need out there that aren't directly related to four-year university. You have got to be able to offer kids both, a career tech education or go to university," Schwarzenegger said.
Schwarzenegger lauded Lindauer for fighting to get the money from the state and the district. He said he visited Venice High School in the 1970s and the school had that outdated equipment until the recent upgrade.
"We've got to think about our children. Our children are the future and they are the most important thing. And, they don't have anyone fighting for them, so it's great when you see people stepping forward and fighitng for our kids," Schwarzenegger said.
Mendoza said the school held the open house to showcase the new equipment and the opportunities it opens for students.
The class is an elective with some students starting in 9th grade and taking it for several years and others who take it for only a year in the upper grades.
The class provides skills that keep them engaged while at school and also improves their chance of graduating, Mendoza said. She said that she hopes to make Super Shop 9 a priority as the school faces a declining enrollment and less funding.
Lindauer was among the thousands of teachers statewide who received layoff notices in March as the state continues to deal with budget shortfalls. Zimmer said most of the layoff notices sent in March likely will be rescinded and if exceptions have to be made he ensured that they would.
"Art (Lindauer) will be here in August," Zimmer said.
Lindauer, who has been teaching for 33 years, said he has received March layoff notices for the past three years.
Alex Mercado, 18, has been taking Super Shop 9 classes for three years and said that it was "a lot easier now" with the new equipment. Mercado explained the process, helped other students and later said that he hopes to make a career out of screen printing with the skills he's learned at Venice High.
Mitnie Hernandez, 14, a freshman, said Lindauer's class was "pretty cool." She said that she likes to make t-shirts and plans on taking technical arts while at Venice High School.
Lindauer's efforts means that students who graduate from Venice will be acquainted with the latest technology if they apply for printing jobs after graduation.
"Printing is the only industry I know where you are able to earn a good salary no matter what level of education you have," Lindauer said.