MARSHALL, Texas – September 2 was just another football home opener for most Marshall Maverick fans in Maverick Stadium. The Mavs were hosting their bitter rival Longview, and the stadium was once again packed out and ready to roll out another chapter in one of the most storied high school football rivalries in the nation.
But Friday, September 2, was also a key date for a literal handful of students in Marshall High School who were rolling out a new addition to the Maverick Stadium experience. As keyed up and energetic as players and fans were on both sides, these students were also facing a bit of anxiety as well in that their work was also being put on display for the thousands in attendance to see.
The new video scoreboard installed in Maverick Stadium this summer was being rolled out for the first time that Friday night, and students in Mrs. Jillian Robinson’s Audio/Visual class — consisting of Jahnisi Calderon, Keicy Carlisle, Delaney Smith, Kat Weese and Nancy Zambrano — were a part of the team responsible for putting the video images and fan and player shots on the new piece of technology. Robinson, in her fifth year in MISD but her first with the new class for Audio/Visual, admits a bit of nervousness going into the unveiling of the scoreboard project.
“The biggest challenge was getting (the students) trained and ready to go for that first game,” said Robinson, who also teaches Graphic Design and Illustration in the MHS Career and Technical Education (CTE) program. “Believe it or not, I think they had about two hours of training on those cameras before that first game. They were quick learners. Luckily we had a lot of help from TSTC and Jamie Horton.”
The Daktronics scoreboard was actually installed the week of the Longview game, which put Robinson’s students in a severe time crunch, considering school had only started the week before that. Robinson admits that created a few anxious moments but that she was amazed at the dedication and performance of her students in taking on the challenge.
“I was just blown away by their abilities, and their commitment to this,” she said. “It’s not something that any person can just pick up a camera off the street and do. You actually have to work at it, and we really had literally just a few days to learn. I had a great response from the community. Most of them now know that I was in teaching the class and running around all over the place, but they would stop me and tell me how good my girls were. People in the booth would tell me how good the girls were, I even had people from other teams complimenting our students.”
When Robinson found out about the scoreboard project this summer, and that ultimately it would be run by MHS students for events in Maverick Stadium – not just football games – she wanted to surround herself with students she’d worked with before who had given indication a desire to work in audio/visual.
“Four of them have taken my graphic design class, and the other one is in the class right now,” she said. “That’s my prerequisite. I want to have the kids so that I can personally choose those I know can do the work, who will show up on time and who I can count on. I kind of spread the word this summer with the kids I knew, about what we were doing, and they wanted to come and do it. The kids were excited about it.”
The camera work was primarily the job of the MHS students this year, but Robinson has bigger and bolder plans for the class throughout the rest of this year and into next.
“I’m starting to let them work with the actual system themselves, so that as we progress through the program they’ll actually take over all aspects of production,” she said. “During football season we went over there two or three times a week, making sure the equipment was working, the cameras were set up, checking on the cords to make sure they were okay. Now that the season is over, that’s kind of died down a bit but we are focusing more on the camera work in class, to get a little bit better for the soccer games, track season, and other events like graduation.”
With the Audio/Visual class being in its first year, Robinson admits the class and its activity are kind of in a “trial-by-fire” stage.
“This is the first year we’ve ever done this, so I’m kind of figuring it out as we go to be honest,” she said. “Right now the kids are working on making a video for CTE contest, hopefully to get our CTE recognized nationally and Marshall recognized nationally. The kids are going to be taking over the messaging on our marquee, and I want them to get more into creating videos, commercials, things like that. That’s a work in progress as we move forward through the year.”
Although this is her first year working with Audio/Visual students at MHS, Robinson says the principles taught in her Graphic Design class are in many ways the same.
“Graphics are more of still pictures, where you look for aesthetics, the graphic design in them, and what makes a good picture,” she said. “You that that information, that skill, and you take it into your video graphics so you’re adding to your videos. It is an easy transfer. We’re using Adobe for all of it so it all works the same, pretty much, there’s very few differences in there. All of the Adobe programs are similar, so once you get one down you can pretty much figure the rest of them out.”
Ultimately, Robinson hopes the skills developed in the Audio/Visual class will help her students who want to enter the video production world move on to the college level, and beyond.
“There are scholarships for students that know how to work scoreboards,” she said. “Everybody (colleges) has one of these kinds of things now, and they needs folks to work them. That is a great opportunity. Hopefully that will help some of our kids get into a college and be able to have it paid for. A lot of my students are considering this, some want to go into photography, or go into professional sports and filming, anything that deals with cameras and recording. This experience will help open those doors for them.”
Robinson also admits that her new class this year is fun for everyone, including herself as the teacher.
“We didn’t have any of these types of classes when I was going to school,” she said. “So, this is exciting for me to be able to get my hands into it and play with it and learn new skills, and new software. It’s a lot of hard work but it’s also fun.”