Finding Ways to Give Back

With work on our Somerville High School project ramping up, SMMA recently capitalized on an ideal opportunity to make good on our pledge to engage students in the process of revitalizing their own educational environment. Project Director Alex Pitkin and the School Building Committee sought a brochure that could be easily distributed to the community at strategic locations throughout the City, emphasizing project transparency by outlining objectives and status. Project Architect Matt Rice, a Somerville resident, was aware of the school’s graphic communications program, and through discussion with staff, identified an opportunity to involve students in the design and production efforts.

The students generated four different concepts, using SMMA-provided assets. Members of our Graphic Design Group then spent an afternoon at the school to review the designs, providing in-person critiques and offering their collective insight as graphics professionals. The end result was a visually compelling, informative brochure, produced in several languages, that serves as a testament to the caliber of the students, who learned new software and applied their talents to a real-world design challenge.

“We had so much that we wanted to share with them,” said Allison Ucci, Senior Graphic Designer. “We talked about white space, topography, and how to treat the hierarchy of information so that when someone opened the brochure, their eyes would be guided to the most important thing, and then the second, then the third.”


The session shared much in common with the ACE Mentor Program, which SMMA has been involved with for a number of years. Through ACE, high-schoolers are afforded hands-on learning opportunities with architecture, construction, and engineering professionals within the context of a working design firm. The Graphic Design Group found the experience so rewarding, it is looking forward to repeating it again soon.

“There is certainly more we can accomplish,” said Sarah Sugawara, Senior Graphic Designer. “The revitalization of the high school will be a lengthy process, and I’m sure there will be plenty of mentoring opportunities like this down the road.” SMMA Graphic Designer Maria DiPietro agreed, and is hopeful to see the students’ progression in future sessions.

The Somerville High School project is currently in the feasibility study phase.