“In my 36 years as an educator – 29 as a computer teacher – no other student has impacted the culture, curriculum and the day-to-day experience of Sparta High School as much as Evan Grahs,” said teacher Paul Owens.
Owens credits Evan for leadership and initiative in classroom projects, creating programs, and utilizing technical references and resources, estimating that Evan has saved the school conservatively between $20,000 and $30,000 in technology needs.
“Evan has created multiple systems that are used by everyone in our building every day. And his influence has started classes, clubs and other programs,” said Owens
How long have you had this interest and how has it made a difference in your life up until now? “I have taken a great interest in various forms of technology since before I can remember,” said Evan.
“I have had access to new technology since I was very young because my dad worked in IT and would show me some of the new stuff he was using. I had the chance to tinker with some of the devices he showed me, and eventually I got my own devices that I could develop my own programs for. I began to teach myself how to write code as I was entering middle school.”
Evan believes that his deep interest and passion for technology has shaped a great part of his life to date. He has held an IT job for the past four summers and has spent many hours over the years operating sound boards at church services, school plays and community events. While vice president of the National Honor Society, he used technology for record keeping and information distribution.
Some Noted Accomplishments at Sparta High School:
- Media Production class: The class was formed after Evan brainstormed with Owens and others to find a system to project live video to a stadium scoreboard. The project evolved into a multi-camera livestream production for athletic and arts events. His ability to harness technology “to create the best experience possible has been incredible,’” said Owens.
- Building-wide announcement screens: For nine years the newly built high school had screens to provide information to students and visitors in the hallway and cafe, but with no operational delivery system. After the administration received a bid of $20,000, Evan – then a freshman – came up with a solution using a Raspberry Pi system, existing Wi-Fi networks and virtual network computing for less than $150. The school has been using the system for three years.
- Drones: Evan has provided drone footage for construction projects throughout the district, which has been used for mapping out a new stadium and parking lot as well as for promotional material for bond proposal campaigns. School News Network made use of one of his photos in a piece about the middle school groundbreaking. He also worked on a grant to purchase a drone to start a drone club for the school.
- Evan is credited with making the Spartan News Network viable and creating sophisticated data and tracing software options for National Honor Society.
Who were/are your mentors? Evan cites two people who have most influenced his “technological journey”: Owens and Evan’s father, John Grahs.
“My father helped me pursue my interest from a young age by helping point me in the right direction, and finding software and hardware I could use to dive deeper into programming and robotics, including tools that allowed me to develop a few mobile apps.
Mr. Owens noticed my talents in an entry level required computer course my freshman year. After I got well ahead of the class work schedule, he asked if I could use a Raspberry Pi computer to play announcement videos on some TVs mounted in the hallways that had gone unused for years. After I completed this, he continued to find new and exciting opportunities for me to use my talents to improve the high school, eventually culminating in the formation and continuation of the Media Production class.”
What the future holds: Evan expects to attend Michigan Technological University in the fall to pursue a degree in computer engineering. He was awarded the university’s Presidential Leading Scholar Award. During his senior year at Sparta High School, he was listed as a pre-admissions student entering the Pavlis Honors College at Michigan Tech..
“After I graduate, I plan to seek out a position where I can combine all the skills I have developed throughout high school and college in a fun and exciting way,” he said.
He likely will.