What should high school students be learning, and what will prepare them for the workforce?

Fontainebleau High School has asked that question, and it's providing diversified opportunities when it comes to preparing students for the life after school.

A ribbon cutting was held Jan. 18 for Fontainebleau's DogHouse Design — a school-based enterprise that has caught the eye of administrators, teachers and students. 

DogHouse Design was created by Fontainebleau teacher Trey Ryals. Ryals and his students run a shop where they design, make and sell T-shirts, posters and decals for a profit.

Not only do they make these items for many Fontainebleau organizations, but they also have completed projects for other schools, churches and various businesses in the community. The Fontainebleau Business Department will be partnering with the graphic arts classes to learn the accounting component of the enterprise.

Attendees of the grand opening were given a tour of the graphic arts facility where the production work happens. Present at the ceremony were several school board leaders, including parish Assistant Superintendent of Schools Regina Sanford and Ronald Bettencourtt, District 10 School Board representative.

An important aspect of the graphic arts curriculum and school-based enterprise is that the students gain practical, hands-on skills that will allow them to become successful in the workforce. And the products look great too, as Fontainebleau Principal Johnny Vitrano noted.

Mark Fugler, a graphic arts student at Fontainebleau, said people outside of school also have expressed satisfaction with the products they've received from DogHouse Design.

“When someone contacts FHS and tells us what they want, we work with them, so they get what they want," Fugler said. "And we also make a product that we are proud of.”

Senior Justin Marcantel said he enjoys the class and has gained valuable experiences, such as time management skills. But more importantly, he said, "It is so cool and rewarding to walk around campus and see friends and fellow classmates wearing something I created.”

Ryals enjoys teaching students real-world skills. When asked why T-shirts are the main business product, Ryals responded, “It wasn’t so much 'Why T-shirts?' as it was that T-shirts became the vehicle for teaching the skills these students need to learn. It had nothing to do with the T-shirts, but it had everything to do with the T-shirts.”

The ribbon-cutting ceremony concluded with performances by the Fontainebleau Jazz Band and refreshments provided by Fontainebleau's ProStart classes.