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Riverside students earn Photoshop certification

Riverside students earn Photoshop certification Antoni Santos, a freshman at Riverside University High School, already is certified in Adobe Photoshop. It’s the same status that professionals seek. 

“I was excited that I got this on my resume already. I was proud of myself,” he said.  

Certification in Photoshop for a 14-year-old is pretty good, he noted.  

Along with other students, Santos took an exam recognized by Adobe, the maker of Photoshop, to receive his certification last semester. He was in the first group at Riverside to do so after his teacher, John Harvie, encouraged his students to pursue Photoshop certification. 

Harvie teaches two classes — digital imaging and desktop publishing— that involve Photoshop, the software that edits images.  

Last semester, 32 of his students received college credit for the two digital imaging classes and 10 were certified in Photoshop. This semester, 26 so far have passed the exam, and six more are expected to pass the exam. Harvie also expects 10 students will earn college credit from this semester’s class. 

“It’s more than getting a good grade. It’s saying, ‘I can be confident in my abilities to do really well in the future,’ ”  Harvie said. 

Students in the classes learn how to modify photos taken by other students. For instance, they can blur the background behind an image of cheerleaders, and they can place students on an empty running track.  

Learning Photoshop can be challenging. “It’s really quite complicated compared to a regular software package, but there’s a logic to it,” Harvie said. He stresses to students that if they understand the logic of the software, they can do something they’ve never done before on Photoshop, just by following its logic.  

“We’re rigorous and fun. It’s hard work, but the kids enjoy it. I think they enjoy it because it’s creative, they can use their intelligence, and it’s connected to who they are,” Harvie said. 

And the classes are hands on. “It’s all experiential,” Harvie said. “I like the metaphor —  

You can’t memorize how to play music; you have to practice it. You can’t memorize how to play basketball; you have to practice it.” 

The exam tests those hands-on abilities and also asks some questions a client might pose, and the exam covers copyright, legal, and ethical implications, Harvie said. 

Students who saw classmates passing the certification exam were motivated, Harvie said. He considers the first group of 10 who passed it as pioneers, of a sort. “They had to kind of show it could be done,” he said. 

The next group of students were more eager and less apprehensive about certification, he noted. 

Santos, the freshman who was certified in Photoshop, said he went for it because Photoshop aligned with a few passions of his, namely photo editing, photography, and computers. He plans to pursue a degree in computer engineering. 

“You can use Photoshop to express yourself, in a way,” he said. “It’s kind of like the computer version of painting.” 

Another student, Yakub Abdi, enjoys Photoshop as a creative outlet, as well. “I like that you’re able to do anything with the picture,” he said. “Just make it whatever you envision it to be.” He expects to use his skills in college and projects on the side. 

Harvie agrees that it’s ultimately about self-expression. “What we’re trying to do is help the students have a voice,” he said. He points to “Black Lives Matter,” “No Human Is Illegal,” and other signs that have become cultural touchstones in recent years, memorably giving voice to movements.  

If students can make something attractive and informative, Harvie tells them, “You can have a big voice, too.” 

The picture accompanying this article features Harvie’s students this semester in a Photoshopped image. 

Front row, left to right: Citlali Soto, Keith Johnson, Christopher Pierce, Asr Clark 

Back row, left to right: Yakub Abdi, Saw Say Ray Htoo, Lizty Campos-Cueto, Antoni Santos, Najheem McGowan 

Student photographers were Ali Ali and Sienna Binns DiMartino. The student Photoshop image creator was Rashell Ceja. 


Stephen Davis, Media Relations Manager
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