Graduate does double duty with class on commencement day

December 17, 2013

He was in Johnson Fieldhouse shortly after 8 a.m., but he wasn't wearing his robe or mortarboard and wasn't there just to soak in the atmosphere. He was using the opportunity to do some student-teaching.

Peterson brought along a group of students from his manufacturing and engineering technology class at nearby Spring Valley High School. As part of a fall project, they created a small business, Valley Frames, and are manufacturing picture frames.

From left, Chris Peterson and Spring Valley High School students Zac Webster, Cody Johnson and Cole Snyder at Johnson Fieldhouse. In the entrances to the fieldhouse and in the post-ceremony reception area, the high school students were selling the clear, acrylic frames. A small one, which could be used as an ornament or refrigerator magnet, was available on site. A larger self-standing frame, for 3-inch-by-5-inch photos, could be ordered.

Plenty of photos were being taken Saturday by proud graduates and their families, who will need a way to display them.

By 9 a.m., a half-hour before the first commencement ceremony began, Valley Frames already had sold 10 frames.

"We just thought we'd give it a shot," Peterson said of using the venue as a way to market their products. "It's a great opportunity for students to meet people and talk about what they've made."

The group had posters explaining the manufacturing process and the products. Frames are $4. The class has a laser engraver to personalize purchases for $1 extra.

One of Peterson's students, Zac Webster, is excited about the business idea Peterson helped bring to the class. "We started it from nothing, and Mr. Peterson did a really good job making it happen, putting the classroom work into the real world," Webster said.

In the afternoon Peterson left his students with their regular teacher, Nick Gilles, a 2000 UW-Stout alumnus, and took part in the commencement ceremony. Peterson received a Bachelor of Science degree in technology education.

A native of Cedar Grove, near Sheboygan in east-central Wisconsin, Peterson said he has enjoyed his student-teaching experience because of the interaction with the students.

The day wasn't all work for Peterson. He was joined by his parents, who made the four-hour-plus drive to UW-Stout for the ceremony, and celebrated with them afterward.

He's happy he chose UW-Stout for his college education. "It's the hands-on experience that Stout offers. Stout graduates are more prepared than other graduates. I love the campus and the area, and it's only getting better," he said.

Although Peterson graduated Saturday, his student-teaching requirement at Spring Valley High School doesn't end until late January.

Besides, there is unfinished business. The class sold frames at the high school's holiday choir concert Tuesday, Dec. 17, and has dozens of orders to fill before Christmas.

To learn more about the class or to order frames, go to the website.