A trend is sweeping across schools nationwide: gearing education and extracurriculars around a school’s digital display. Many schools enjoy using the same equipment as professional sporting venues, so why not give the students an opportunity to learn and gain real-world work experience at the same time? We talked with Steve Verheyen, Director of Operations for the Reeds Spring R-IV School District in Missouri, to see how the Wolves are getting the most out of their display.
Q: You’re an existing customer of Daktronics. Why did you return for this project?
A: We have always enjoyed our relationship with the staff of Daktronics. When installing the new display at our stadium, Daktronics staff helped us select the best product for the size of our facility by providing us a display and audio demonstration through two different demo trailers. Those units allowed us to select the best possible product prior to the final purchase being made.
Daktronics Sports Marketing also worked with us to provide marketing material, which allowed us to speak to our constituents in an effort to raise non-district funds for the purchase. The setup, training and service were exceptional.
Q: Did anything else factor into choosing Daktronics?
A: Over the last eleven years, the district has attempted to consolidate its equipment with service providers we have had a successful long-standing relationship with. Daktronics has been responsive to our needs and competitive with their pricing. The fact that the scoreboard controls are universal with each of our facilities has allowed us flexibility in a pinch. The company’s reputation has proceeded efforts to remain a primary provider of sound and lighting displays.
Q: What feedback have you heard about the display?
A: Those that have attended our games or events in the stadium have left quite impressed with the sound and video quality. We had an old Christmas light scoreboard, so an upgrade was due, but this display hit it out of the ballpark. Visiting districts have commented that the new display has the potential to be a game changer.
The sound quality and the creativity of our motion graphics/video production classes has elevated the energy in and around the stadium, creating a charge on game nights that electrifies the crowd.
Although we have heard positive comments, the real testimony is in the stands and on the field where we have witnessed firsthand the increased intensity of game night.
Q: Do you have a favorite feature of the equipment?
A: No particular favorite feature, but the quality of the video allows the opportunity for our students to put into motion their out-of-the-box thinking to personalize every event in a way that is relevant to our students and community. That flexibility generates enthusiasm through personalization and gives it the hometown flair, translating into the electric environment we are witnessing.
Q: What results have you seen from this?
A: There is a direct correlation between student involvement and getting to know each other as a result of this Daktronics display. Our high school houses roughly 650 students. When we installed this display, we reached out to two of our high school teachers and challenged them to create classes that would teach the art of motion graphics.
Ultimately, this newly designed class allows students to explore a potential career field while providing them an avenue to expose their final product to our fan base. One of the two teachers saw this as an opportunity to incorporate a modern-day video production class that integrates technology design into the current curriculum.
Video production students interview student athletes and create videos for the big screen during events. We can then showcase the students’ work and they get to know new people. Video Production students share their information with the motion graphics students to create graphics. Video Production students also use a drone to create website footage. They provide a live broadcast for all games and often pan to the Daktronics scoreboards on the baseball and softball fields or in the gymnasiums.
This class has allowed grandparents, parents, friends and families that would not have otherwise had an opportunity to view an event away from or on campus to do so from the comfort of their home, hotel room, etc. Without the endless opportunities for interaction with the Daktronics display, it is probable Reeds Spring Schools would not have recognized the full spectrum of opportunities we were missing out on—for our students to explore career choices and gain practical experience in motion graphics and video production.
Q: What a great opportunity! Anything else you’d like to add?
This year, one of our students who participated in the video production class for the last two years is graduating and has been accepted to the University of Missouri (Mizzou). He intends on pursuing a minor in video production to ultimately launch a career in feature film and T.V.
These are the fruits of stepping outside a financial comfort zone as an administration and allowing teachers and students alike to elevate the expectation.
Results like these were not our original expectation. It took two teachers who recognized what’s best for kids to get us to this place. Once they saw the interaction with the display, they worked hard to get the best equipment possible to complement the Daktronics display, developed an initiative with a big picture end game knowing our original desire was to utilize the display as a communication tool to create enthusiasm for district programs and community sponsors/members. These teachers saw something special in their students’ eyes and brought it full circle by creating a program that provides students another avenue to find a place they can pursue a potential career they could be passionate about.
Although some may not see the correlation between the Daktronics display and video production, I assure them the display made the conversation possible and potential for our students very fluid in the mind of these teachers. With the support of students, parents and administration this evolved into an expectation buster. We do not even use the display to its full potential yet, but we are certainly on our way.