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More than just scoreboards

The Somerset High School gymnasium now features two new digital scoreboards, which can show videos and other images while also keeping score and time during games. Jordan Willi / RiverTown Multimedia

For many years, scoreboards were only asked to keep score and time for games at every level. However, as technology continues to advance, scoreboards are being asked to do more than keep time or tell you how many points a player has scored.

"The main focus of the scoreboard project became: what else can we use this space for if we had more technology? The gym has been without technology just from the standpoint of an everyday gym class. Then we started to learn what other schools were doing with this type of technology every day for phy ed in addition to what coaches can do with it during practices," said Somerset High School Director of Programs John Walsh.

As of Friday, June 1, the SHS gymnasium became home to two newly installed digital scoreboards that not only keep score, but can be used as a TV or computer screen. Both boards were officially unveiled and used during the district's graduation ceremony on June 3.

"We were contacted by ScoreVision back in the fall of 2016. With these boards being installed in 1996, we've spent at least three or four years knowing we needed to do something since the technology was very dated and failing," Walsh said. "Even at that time, I had been looking at different possibilities of boards. My thoughts were to still go a little more old school with a clock and a score area, but then I started seeing what other possibilities existed."

According to SHS Principal Shannon Donnelly, the idea came from Walsh and phy ed teacher Bruce Larson. Omaha, Nebraska-based ScoreVision installed the boards. The company came the Wednesday before graduation and had the boards up and running by Friday afternoon.

"This scoreboard project is so much bigger than just being a scoreboard. For me as a principal, I was excited about bringing this type of tool into our building because of the impact that I see this can have on instruction in a wide variety of content areas," said Donnelly. "Watching the promo videos of what the boards can do, the best way I can explain it is that the board can do all these things and, oh yeah, it can keep score, too. This tool can be used to further push us toward delivering education in a 21st century way."

The boards keep score and time like any other scoreboard, plus showcase academic projects produced by students and featured school and community events. The boards are operated by a software program that can be used on an iPad or computer. The screens, according to Walsh, can be operated like a TV or computer screen, meaning any type of video content can be uploaded.

"I feel like we now have the tools and the space for some community activities and gatherings to happen in our building that right now probably can't happen because we don't have a good space for it in our community," Donnelly said. "I look at things like Veterans Day and how a tool like this will enhance a program like that."

The boards will also be used by students to showcase projects, especially for those in the school's media production class. The boards will also enhance the phy ed department by allowing them to show videos during classes and give coaches an opportunity to review video on the boards during practice.

Funding for the project, according to Walsh, came from a combination of pledges and commitments of advertising from area businesses.

"There was concern with a project like this if there was priority right now for school dollars. And the answer to that right now would probably be no considering other things we need to do. But with no district fund dollars being spent on this project we moved ahead to get it in because we needed to replace what we had and we weren't just going to replace with the same thing that would instantly be outdated and be limited on what we were going to be able to do in comparison with other schools," Walsh said.

Jordan Willi
Jordan Willi is a reporter for the New Richmond News. Previously, he worked as a sports reporter at the Worthington Daily Globe in Worthington, Minnesota. He also interned at the Hudson Star Observer for two summers and contributed to the Bison Illustrated sports magazine at North Dakota State University.
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