By Michelle Sartor
Ashley Foster and Amanda Tootill of Career & Technology Center of Anderson in Williamston, SC, USA were awarded first place at the ninth annual International Phoenix Challenge Flexo Skills Competition. Both girls participated in the challenge last year and are seniors who plan to continue in graphic arts after graduation. Each girl received a $1,000 scholarship and they were given the 2006 Harper Flexo High School of the Year trophy cup to display at their school.
This year’s Phoenix Challenge took place at the Harper National Flexographic Center at Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte, NC, USA, March 29-31.
Second place winners were Arnaldo Caceres and John Moore, representing Fairfield Career & Technology Center in Winnsboro, SC, USA. Third place went to Juan Barreto and Amy Baltz of South Mecklenburg High School in Charlotte, NC, USA. In total, 41 students participated in the event.
Teams complete five tests during the competition. The written test is the Level I certification test from the Foundation of Flexographic Technical Association (FFTA). Teams take the graphic arts math test and prepress test. The plate-making test has a written section as well as a plate-making portion. Finally, students take the press test, in which participants have one hour and 30 minutes to run a two-color job, register it, print sellable stock, and clean up the press. Participants used one Mark Andy and two Comco flexographic presses. The highest combined score wins.
Sponsors for the Phoenix Challenge include All Printing Resources Inc., Avery Dennison, Benton Graphics Inc., Dunwoody College of Technology, the Flexographic Technical Association (FTA), Harper Corporation, J R Cole Industries Inc., Krafft Printing Systems Inc., Mark Andy, RotoMetrics, Anderson & Vreeland Inc., Water Ink Technologies Inc., Mastergraphics, FlexoExchange, and RBCOR.
According to its web site, the mission of the Phoenix Challenge Foundation is “to promote the growth of the flexographic printing process in the educational system throughout North America.” Bettylyn Krafft, chairman of the Phoenix Challenge Foundation and president of Krafft Printing Systems Inc., explains that a high school principal and teachers started the competition nine years ago. Two years ago, Krafft and others incorporated it and became the Phoenix Challenge Foundation. The organization is made up completely of volunteers, which Krafft estimates at about 15.
The foundation is currently preparing a college program similar to its high school competition, which it is striving to kick off at the FFTA forum next year. Krafft says, “We have all the colleges working together to develop the challenge. It won’t be like the high school one. It’ll be more hands on research. They’ll be given a problem and have to find a solution.”
Though participants might have to print something, Krafft says organizers are trying to stay away from that, explaining that colleges use a variety of presses. She says, “We’re trying to develop it so that it’s on an even platform.”