Local college students submit banner designs for District Heights streetscape project -- Gazette.Net



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One local college student has the chance this spring to leave his or her permanent beauty mark on a city reinventing its business district.

District Heights is partnering with Prince George's Community College Visual Communication students to create a city banner for lamp posts between the 6000 and 6400 blocks of Marlboro Pike, an effort to coincide with the city's plans for new landscaping and sidewalks in the city's business district, said Samantha Archibald, District Heights' urban planner.

Residents will have a chance to review the designs intended to celebrate the city's past and future, and will choose their favorite from five student finalists from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. March 20 inside the E. Michael Roll Municipal Building at 2000 Marbury Drive.

Students already received suggestions Monday on how to tweak their designs, which will be finalized in late March and early April before the city bids for a contractor to fabricate the designs for real banners, Archibald said.

The finalists, picked from 10 students who applied, are Alisha Dines, 21, of Accokeek; Torrean Green, 20, of Fort Washington; Lovie Leach, 39, of Clinton; Nicole Mitchell, 20, of Upper Marlboro; and Jasmine Rubin, 21, of Clinton.

"We're just trying to create a brand for the city on Marlboro Pike, and we want that brand to be positive, modern, something that reflects what the city is really about," Archibald said.

Leach, a sophomore graphic design major, went with a golden banner with the "City of District Heights" in cursive font and "word cloud" that had multiple words in colors like dark pink and light blue to describe the city such as "seniors," "youth," "recreation" and "community."

All students used a combination of Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator to complete their designs.

"Instead of trying to do images I just tried to bring forward what they were looking for just with words," Leach said.

The city has partnered with PGCC visual communication students before for other projects such as the banner for the city's 75th Anniversary celebration in 2011, said PGCC instructor Michele Bazemore. This semester's class is new and has not worked on previous city initiatives before the city asked Bazemore in December about participating in the banner project, she said. Students aren't paid for participating in the contest or winning.

"It gives them real-world practicum design experience working with real clients in the community and they have a sense of satisfaction when they finish these that they've actually helped someone in the community," Bazemore said.

Mitchell's current banner includes a background of an old boundary map with a more recent picture of a circle clock at District Heights Parkway, one of the city's landmarks, but she's planning on making changes and maybe visiting the city herself to take pictures since she also has a love for photography. Mitchell, a sophomore general studies major, said she was surprised to be picked as a finalist.

"I think some other people had some great ideas," Mitchell said. "Whether they pick me or the other four people, at least it was somebody from this class."

nmcgill@gazette.net