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Students See Ducks T-Shirt Designs Spring to Life

The Ducks held the third annual Samueli Academy T-Shirt Design Contest for the academy, where students were challenged to create a Ducks branded t-shirt design specifically for St. Patrick's Day

by Jenelyn Russo / Special to

High school students at Samueli Academy in Santa Ana were recently given a unique opportunity to participate in a design project with the Ducks that saw some of the students' selected designs come to life.

In support of the project-based learning approach that is at the center of the curriculum at the free public charter high school, the Ducks held the third annual Samueli Academy T-Shirt Design Contest, where this year, students were challenged to create a Ducks-branded t-shirt design specifically for St. Patrick's Day.

Some of the parameters for the holiday-themed project included utilizing the Anaheim Ducks "D" or Mighty Ducks "MD" logo, while keeping the adult, casual Ducks fan in mind. Winning designs were printed on t-shirts for the club's Top Line Threads line and are being sold at the Anaheim Ducks Team Store powered by Reebok at Honda Center. All proceeds from sales of the t-shirts will go to support Samueli Academy.

The 66 high school seniors who participated in the project are in a Design 4 class in the school's design pathway and worked in pairs to develop two individual submissions that were "similar, but different." Having previously participated in this design contest as underclassmen, the seniors were challenged to show an elevation in their artistic ideas as well as a thorough understanding of the team's brand.

The students began the process by conducting market research amongst their classmates to inspire preliminary concepts. From there, they developed hand-drawn thumbnail sketches that incorporated elements of design such as balance, symmetry and repetition and then presented their ideas to Ducks staff members for feedback.

Once designs were refined, the students transferred their sketches into Adobe Illustrator and prepared a slideshow for a formal presentation to Ducks management.

"This provides students the chance to work on an authentic, hands-on project, something as similar as possible to working for a commercial client," said Samueli Academy design teacher Gabe Cheng. "And they get the chance to communicate with and receive feedback from those who aren't their teachers or peers."

Susan Samueli, Ducks owner and founder of Samueli Academy, said she was impressed with the level of creativity presented by the students.

"There were so many great designs," Samueli said. "The kids were very thoughtful, and you can tell from their presentations that they're learning. They're learning about design, they're learning about color and they're learning about what can be marketed. How many people in high school are given an experience like this that they can translate into real life?"

Once all the students' designs were presented, members of the Ducks organization reviewed the submissions, narrowed them down to a handful of preferred choices and then made their final selections. After the winning students were notified, they were given the chance to collaborate with the club's graphic designers to refine their designs and prepare them for printing.

Prior to Wednesday night's game at Honda Center against the St. Louis Blues, the students chosen for their winning designs were recognized during a pregame ceremony where their t-shirts were revealed.

One of the winning designs submitted by Chelsey Martinez and Gisselle Garcia is a circular design reminiscent of neon signs often seen at bars or pubs and incorporates the Ducks "D" logo as well as a Celtic knot-shaped clover on a black short-sleeved t-shirt.

An aspiring graphic designer, Garcia was stunned to learn their design was selected.

"The moment we found out, we looked at each other in disbelief," Garcia said. "It was amazing. Winning this was bigger than words."

For Martinez, the project process opened her eyes to graphic design as a possible career path and the positive results that can come from hard work and effort.

"Not only do we get to see our t-shirt in a place where other people can buy it, which is the whole point of project-based learning, but it's cool that teenagers like us can make something that people would actually buy," Martinez said.

The second winning submission from Daniel Rangel and Gonzalo Sarinana features a rectangular clover graphic with intersecting line work and the Ducks "D" logo on a black short-sleeved t-shirt. For Rangel, there's nothing like seeing a design concept come to fruition.

"It's really awesome to see a sketch that I had in a sketch book come to life on a t-shirt," Rangel said. "It's a cool feeling to see that other people like it too."

A third pair of students was recognized for their hard work and design intent, as the submission by Nadia Serrano and Andres Alvarado will be produced into a graphic poster by the Ducks at a later date. Serrano was thrilled to see her vision appreciated by the Ducks staff members.

"This is really exciting," Serrano said. "The fact that I was able to achieve this with my design and be recognized for it is really amazing. I'm just really grateful."

Serrano's partner, Alvarado, was thankful to be able to join one of his best friends in receiving recognition for their efforts.

"It's not something I would have expected in my life," said Alvarado. "It's a great honor."

With so many creative design submissions to choose from, Ducks Director of Merchandising Jill Bauer, was pleased to see the enthusiasm the students showed for the Ducks brand and the sport of hockey.

"These are fans, so they're actually given a chance to share their passion for hockey with others," Bauer said. "And our fans like that. They like to know that these kids are into it."

Samueli Academy Head of School Anthony Saba believes it's these kinds of authentic project opportunities that connect classroom learning with real life in a way that nothing else can.

"This is what a good education is all about," Saba said. "Whether they won the contest or not, how many kids can say that they interacted with professionals from the marketing department of an NHL team? This is education at its finest."


T-shirts with the winning designs are currently on sale in the Anaheim Ducks Team Store powered by Reebok at Honda Center. All proceeds from sales of the t-shirts will go to support Samueli Academy.

For more information about Samueli Academy, visit

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