SBHS fashion design class inspires while teaching technology and encouraging creative problem-solving.


Fashion Design and Technology Meet

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Thursday January 09, 2014

Although it’s only 8:40 a.m. on a Tuesday morning at South Burlington High School, the energy in Mr. Galiga’s fashion design class is high as students filter in and immediately set to work on their current assignment. This particular project is based on a challenge from the popular TV series Project Runway and involves creating a design, then taking it before a panel of judges for critique. But unlike the reality show, where contestants are sent to high end shops to purchase reams of new fabric, these students are utilizing found items such as bicycle inner tubes, vinyl, garden fabric, Styrofoam, and cardboard coffee cozies - thanks to their teacher’s resourcefulness in garnering supplies. While students typically design an ensemble using computer software prior to getting to work, this particular exercise is completely manual. “Yes, a needle and thread is a form of technology” Galiga quipped. 

Philip Galiga, who has been teaching in the technology department at South Burlington High School for 11 years, had long been thinking about designing a class like this as a potential vehicle to enroll more girls into technology classes. This is the first year the class has been offered and given the number of students enrolled(19 girls and one boy in the first semester and 15 for the second), it looks like the idea has taken off! “We had over 40 requests initially for the course, but some students could not fit it into their schedule” Galiga said. In addition to the simple fact that it sounds fun, students also fulfill their technology credit requirement since each project involves technology in some way.

As it is the first year, students have had a chance to influence the curriculum. They are exercising their creativity and working at their own pace on projects that interest them while making huge leaps in learning computer software that will surely be beneficial regardless of career choice. 

Aside from the current challenge, other aspects of the class have involved developing their own series of 3-5 minute TED talks (Technology, Entertainment, Design) on an item or style to which they feel an emotional connection. Steampunk, jewelry designing sisters, streetware, and bike shorts are just a sampling of topics that have been presented. 

Another project, which involved a class outing to the Williston Goodwill Store, was loosely based around the popular song by Macklemore called thrift shop. Student Sarina Cannizzaro shot a video of the experience using the ‘VideoStar’ app on her phone as students, with $20 or less in hand scoured the Goodwill for t-shirts and other clothing items they could re-purpose into complete outfits. The results were stunning (see accompanying photos) and truly makes one think of the possibilities when faced with the perennial conundrum: “a closet full of clothes and nothing to wear.” 

While many of the students expressed a desire to pursue a component of fashion or graphic design as a career, others said they enrolled because it sounded like a fun way to complete their technology credit. Several mentioned that one of the reasons the class is great is because of Mr.Galiga himself. 

“With a different teacher, this would be a different class,” Nirali Desai said. “If we aren’t okay with a certain aspect of a project we can change it.” Desai said that even though she does not plan on pursuing fashion as a career, the class has taught her a lot about problem solving and work ethic as well as the necessity to push to make something better. 

Sophi O’Leary took fashion classes last summer at Davis Studios and has found learning Photoshop to be a helpful tool as she moves forward. 

The only boy in this semester’s class, Ryan Morrissey told me he definitely follows fashion, but is more interested in graphic design. Fellow students in the class lauded his photography skills and upon pressing, he revealed he had designed the logo for the snowboarding team shirts. He has had the opportunity to take digital photography at SBHS as well as advanced graphic design classes. “We’re so lucky here” Morrissey said.  A student from Burlington who is enrolled in the class as a school choice transfer student agreed. 

The students showed focus, professionalism, motivation, and perhaps most refreshing: gratitude for having access to a class like this. 

“There is definitely a ‘buzz’ regarding the class,” Galiga said,  “I tell my students that this class is the one I lose the most sleep over because I’m trying to keep that energy going by planning lessons. Fashion is such a huge industry which makes my lesson planning wide open. I try to keep the lessons fun and relevant while also maintaining the technology component.” 

The students are completing their Project Runway challenge and will face a panel of keen fashionistas. If you’d like to see more from this talented group, check out the monitor in the SBHS hallway outside the technology classroom which features a number of student created designs. Also, fashion class student Ali Barritt’s article in the SBHS online student newspaper “Rebelution” gives compelling voice to the excitement around this incredible class. 

SOURCE: Corey Burdick, Correspondent