School events ‘go live’ thanks to pair of juniors

Students must keep track of a number of computer feeds when producing live feed

Being able to broadcast events live began as a simple project in a computer class, explained junior Evan Grahs. “But now it is doing well and it is powerful.”

Computer teacher Paul Owens agrees. “Video is the new medium of the storyteller. (And) these types of classes teach real-life skills.”

Students in Owens’ classes were producing video content to use on district athletic scoreboards, when he began wondering about the possibility of adding new features, like broadcasting live events.

“The gym and the new fieldhouse had very nice video (score) boards,” said Owens. “I knew they were capable of live feed, but I wasn’t even sure exactly how to do it and how much work it would be to set up cameras and so forth.”

Up For The Challenge

Evan and Colton Kilpatrick, also a junior, were part of a video production class that produces the YouTube channel Spartan News, and they were ready for the challenge.

“Anything computer interests me,” Evan said. “And Colton is amazing with drone photography, so we knew we could do it.”

Juniors Evan Grahs (left) and Colton Kilpatrick enjoy working together on computer projects

The pair went to work figuring out how to set wireless connections for Wi-Fi routing, how to pull video from each camera, and how to switch efficiently from video taken on the field or game floor to prepared video feed or for on-camera video.

At sports events, they stationed fellow students with camera phones on top of the press box, on the ground and at various locations among the fans, including the opposing side.

“We had to get a device to stabilize footage in order to pull video from persons walking around in the crowd or on the sidelines,” said Evan. “Then the hub producer sits at a computer and figures out which camera to draw from.”

“The students worked hard,” Owens said. “Together we figured it out and it feels great.” Immediately there was “lots of positive feedback.”

Homecoming was one of the group’s first live-feed productions. “Our first video got over 1,500 views,” Colton said.

Added Evan: “It was cool because there was stuff from the gym and the stadium at the same time. It was a real test of our ability — to tear down and set up production. Everything went well. It really proved that we could do a lot.”

But they weren’t finished yet.

Evan Grahs demonstrates using a stabilizing device to help with cell phone video

Ideas Turn Into A New Class

With the support of high school Principal Matt Spencer, Owens and the students began a plan to take it to a new level with a class specifically for live-feed video.

They figured out what equipment would be needed and, of course, made a video before taking the idea to the Board of Education. Evan said in the video, “we wanted to show them how much tech has changed.”

The board approved, and the fall semester class began with nine “passionate and gifted students” enrolled, Owens said. “It is a great class. Students are learning skills for future jobs.”

He said he particularly likes working with the students, helping them produce the after-school events.

Students create live video of a variety of athletic and music events, and hope to expand the use of their skills to other events around the district and the community.

Janice Holst
Janice Holst has been both a teacher and a journalist. A former MLive reporter, she wrote features and covered local government and schools for Advance Newspapers for nearly two decades. She also was a recipe columnist and wrote features for Mature Life Style and occasional entertainment pieces for On The Town magazines. She lives in Sparta Township and is thrilled to spend some of her retirement hours writing the stories of the northern Kent County school districts. Read Janice's full bio

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