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John Schrader, a junior at Aviano High School, Italy, is the first DODDS-Europe student to receive the Adobe Certified Expert status in Photoshop.

John Schrader, a junior at Aviano High School, Italy, is the first DODDS-Europe student to receive the Adobe Certified Expert status in Photoshop. (Kent Harris / S&S)

AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy — Think of John Schrader as a modern-day artist. But instead of creating works of art on canvas, he uses a computer screen.

John, a junior at Aviano High School, recently became the first Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Europe student to receive the Adobe Certified Expert status in Photoshop, a photo editing program. He passed a test in Verona to earn the internationally recognized certificate.

“He’s got a great eye,” said Mark Fix, who teaches several vocational education classes at the school. “And a great deal of talent in this field.”

John says he currently doesn’t plan on making graphic arts a career. “It’s more of a hobby to me,” he says. “I don’t know if I want to put my whole life into it.”

He has a digital camera and a computer at home, but he doesn’t own a version of the popular photo editing software. Part of that is due to a teenager’s budget. Versions of the software were selling for $147.25 on Amazon.com.

John picked up his skills by taking a yearlong class taught by Fix.

Fix said enrollment in such classes — growing in number at many DODDS schools in Europe — is still small at Aviano. John was one of only five students in the class.

“Which is not unexpected, because these are high-level courses,” Fix said. “Like [advanced placement] classes.”

John, an “A” student, might be taking the class as a hobby, Fix said. But other students could use such skills to get jobs right out of high school.

As for the Adobe certification, Fix said the test is rigorous and accepted as an indicator that holders know their way around the program.

Among his projects this year, John created a fake magazine cover that would do The Economist proud and grafted human eyes and lips onto a picture of a koala.

But he said the main reason he likes the program is to touch up pictures of friends and family. So watch out for pictures of a rather human-looking koala on the Grand Canal in Venice.

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Kent has filled numerous roles at Stars and Stripes including: copy editor, news editor, desk editor, reporter/photographer, web editor and overseas sports editor. Based at Aviano Air Base, Italy, he’s been TDY to countries such as Afghanistan Iraq, Kosovo and Bosnia. Born in California, he’s a 1988 graduate of Humboldt State University and has been a journalist for almost 38 years.
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