January 07, 2002 11:00 pm
BOOK PUBLISHERS SPOTLIGHT CHILDREN: La Grande High's BIG Design books are printed and assembled under the direction of, from left, John Woodfield, Seth Pennington and Matt Nightingale. (The Observer/PHIL BULLOCK).
BOOK PUBLISHERS SPOTLIGHT CHILDREN: La Grande High's BIG Design books are printed and assembled under the direction of, from left, John Woodfield, Seth Pennington and Matt Nightingale. (The Observer/PHIL BULLOCK).

By Dick Mason

Observer Staff Writer

These La Grande High School students do not put peoples names up in lights.

However, they do put the names of individuals in books and picture frames and on cups, key chains and more.

The students are the 18 members of Teresa Dowdys Future Business Leaders of America Principles and Procedures class.

The students are operating a school-based business called BIG Design.

The business produces personalized childrens books, name descriptions, baby books and more.

The name description project provides detailed information on thousands of first names.

One of the most popular products are personalized books. Each volume contains the name and home town of the child the book is for all within its text. The individuals name is listed at least 20 times in each book since the child is the star of each story.

The titles offered include: Spider-Man, Wheres Waldo, Batman, Little Mermaid and about 30 others. Book buyers may also have the names of their childs parents and relatives included.

The students were encouraged to learn that a book they sold was the favorite Christmas gift of the purchasers young granddaughter.

She (the granddaughter) was amazed that her name was in the book, Dowdy said. She could not understand how it got there.

The books are printed and assembled under the direction of juniors Matt Nightingale, Seth Pennington and John Woodfield, all students in Dowdys class.

The three students started the book project after getting a grant last year via the Union-Baker Education Service District for the project. They received the grant with the help of Sherry Cole, the Union-Baker ESDs school to work manager.

BIG Design is so named because it has the first initials of the middle names of Nightingale, Pennington and Woodfield.

The students create their personalized childrens volumes with computer software and materials provided by Best Personalized Books. The company also provides covers and illustrated pages. The text of each book is on a computer program that students personalize by typing in names. A printer then attaches the customized text to the pages. The books are then bound.

There is no margin for error, since things such as a single misspelled word or a unevenly bound cover will render a book worthless. The students have strong incentive to strive for perfection as errors mean lost profits, Pennington said.

The name description program reveals the meaning and origin of a name and the personal characteristics people with various names are expected to have.

Name information is printed on high quality paper and inserted in transparent plastic mugs, key chains, or picture frames of varying sizes.

A related product Dowdys students are producing is the Birthday Chronicle. This is the facsimile of the front page of a newspaper containing articles summarizing the lead stories of the year.

For example, a person born in 1957 would receive a Birthday Chronicle with stories about the the movie The Bridge On the River Kwai, which won the Academy Awards Best Picture honor. It would also contain mention of Fidel Castros start of a rebellion in Cuba.

BIG Design is also producing baby books in which parents can keep a record of their childs development. Each volume has the childs name, age, parents and other information printed in it. There are many pages for adding other things to the books.

They are like scrapbooks, Dowdy said.

Pet Pedigrees are another product available from the class. The framed certificates contain information about a pets history and facts about its breed. For example, a pet pedigree about the miniature Scottish terrier states that the dogs are extremely brave and intelligent, they are wonderful and surprisingly quiet guard dogs. ...

LHSs FBLA chapter is not the only local one that produces personalized childrens books.

Elgin High Schools FBLA chapter has been producing personalized books for children for about five years. The chapter is producing products with a student business that is titled Name Expressions.

Imbler High Schools FBLA chapter also produces customized products but not books.

For information on products being produced call: La Grande High School, 663-3327; Elgin High School, 437-2021; or Imbler High School, 534-5331.