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For The Troops Students Create Christmas Cards
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It used to be youngsters used crayons, scissors and glue to make their own Christmas cards for family and friends. Maybe they still do in kindergarten.

But now older students in Riverbank High's graphic design class are clicking on computer keyboards to create Christmas cards for wounded American soldiers recovering in the hospital.

RHS teacher Kathy Briggs plans to dispatch 60 of them to the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. Every student in her class is making a card and learning Photoshop elements at the same time.

Holding a card decorated with a bright design of Tigger, Eeyore and Pooh Bear driving a gift-filled sleigh, 15-year-old Kelsey Jarrett explained the students pull the pictures off the Internet but can move the elements around and pose them against different backgrounds to come up with their own unique design.

The greeting inside also is in their own words.

"We appreciate all that you are doing for this country. We hope you have a Merry Christmas and get well soon," reads her card.

Emily Eitelgeorge is fond of the Peanuts comic strip characters and had created a card featuring Charlie Brown and Snoopy on skis admiring a decorated Christmas tree.

"Thank you so much for the service and sacrifice you provide to our nation," she wrote on the inside. "Hope you will enjoy this holiday season. Your dedication to our country is always appreciated, especially around this time of year."

Abraham Palomino's design was a little more abstract and carried a collage of a tree, a holiday wreath, a Santa and a Coca Cola bottle. Coca Cola? Admittedly a symbol of America but its connection to Christmas remained unexplained by the card maker.

His greeting, however, was definitely manly and upbeat.

"Hope you guys are feeling better," it reads. "My hat's off to you guys for serving in Iraq and the war. Please recover back to normal before the holidays. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year."

Last year, Briggs added, her students sent a load of cards to a former student serving in Iraq. This year they decided to send cards to a number of soldiers in the hospital. They also are making designs to iron on T-shirts for family gifts and calendars that illustrate their life in school during the past year.

Individual designs composed on computers also will top a paragraph they've been invited to write about what they want for Christmas.

Doesn't matter what time of year it is or what the content, the graphic design class teaches her students to surf the Internet, find and compose images into their own creation, Briggs said.