Multimedia students from Pickerington High School North recently extended their program's streak of competing at a national business-leadership conference to four consecutive years.

In addition to preparing students for college and jobs in the global, digital marketplace, Doug Rider has built something of a dynasty through a two-year multimedia class he and PHS North offer at Eastland-Fairfield Career & Technical Schools.

For four straight years, students in his class have fared well enough in a statewide competition to show off technology-based knowledge and creativity to earn invitations to the Business Professionals of America National Leadership Conference.

The string enabled Rider and his students to travel to Anaheim, California, and Boston, for the national conference.

It's also yielded a haul of awards, including back-to-back national championships in website design in 2015 and 2016 for Lindsay Klenzman (PHS North) and Sarah Riedlinger and Tanisha Thomas of (Reynoldsburg High School), who were national champions in website design.

This year, North juniors Kevin Lanier, Lee Ogden, Jared Poole, Nate Reedus and Hunter Thiede carried the baton by finishing sixth out of 34 teams that qualified for the website-design-team competition at the national conference, held May 10-14 in Orlando, Florida.

They were asked to create a website featuring do-it-yourself projects, which they did, in addition to organizing content to the seasons of the year.

So those who visit http://epochidiy.info can learn to make everything from winter holiday arts and crafts to roped flower pots for spring and tie-dyed T-shirts and a floating "pool beverage boat" for summertime recreation.

Ogden, who created mockup sketches of how the site would look based on structural features that the team discussed and helped select the DIY projects featured on the site, said he used "interface-design" applied skills learned in Rider's graphic-design course.

"We also had to explore many popular websites to discover what features are employed to engage the user," Ogden said. "Our website is 'one-stop shop' for users who are interested in DIY projects, and allows them to find any kind of project they could imagine."

Ogden was part of the team that earned second-place in the state, but she was unable to attend the conference in Orlando.

Rider noted the students' site not only featured slick graphics and useful information, but it also included a tabbed interface to save space and make it easy for someone to progress from step to step through projects without scrolling.

They also included a way for users to submit their own DIY project to be added to the site, he said.

Although the five-member team didn't create all of the DIY projects on the site, they did research and organize them so they were presented in a "very consumable format," Rider said, and they created four time-lapse videos of the project with written instructions leading the visitor through it.

"The site has a very modern, professional look that makes the content the main focus," Rider said. "They researched and provided great content, made the site responsive so that it is optimized for different screen sizes and they added excellent images and videos to illustrate the projects.

"In addition, they displayed the site in a showcase and presented it to panel of judges, which took an enormous amount of preparation, teamwork and effort."

Rider said the students applied classroom lessons in which they'd been instructed to consider needs of mobile device Internet users and the importance of keeping file sizes as small as possible.

"What makes this group special is the effort and extra work they put in to make the site great," he said. "During the part of the year when they were building the site, they stayed after school nearly every day for several hours to fix problems and make additions that improved the user experience.

"We had done some work in class that focused on personalities and how these impact working styles and group dynamics," Rider said.

"As they got to know each other's strengths and weaknesses more thoroughly, they were able to decide on roles that would combine their individual talents in ways that brought out the best in each other."

Rider said he was impressed by the students' dedication, as well as their ability to continue a tradition of excellence within the multimedia program. He noted they even sought feedback from administrators and staff at North and Eastland-Fairfield to hone their project presentation.

"I'm very proud that we've had a team finish in the top 10 in the nation for four straight years," he said.

"After finishing first at nationals the past two years with students who graduated last year, it was an important year to continue to the high level of achievement for the program.

"One thing that makes this all possible for these students is Eastland-Fairfield Career & Technical Schools.

"Multimedia is a satellite program offered by the (Eastland-Fairfield schools). The success these students have enjoyed over the years in the multimedia program would not be possible without the EFCTS' strong support and backing of these students to compete and travel to leadership conferences."

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