Marietta High School, a Georgia College and Career Academy, recently joined Georgia’s growing career prep education initiative, where students are given tools and course options that go far beyond the average public education experience. With “Career Pathways” that provide college prep and training for careers in locally significant sectors such as digital media production, construction trades, sciences, nursing and medicine, game design, engineering, architecture and more, the school is a beacon of expansive student opportunity that represents a 21st century version of the traditional trade school.
“We are preparing each of our 2,454 students for a meaningful career aligned with career aptitudes and interests,” said Keith L. Ball, Principal of Marietta High School. “We are purposefully aligning the Career Pathway offerings to opportunities in our community and region.”
As part of the school’s goal to provide education and training relevant to the needs of the community and students’ interests, more than 80 state-of-the-art digital displays from LG Business Solutions USA have been installed throughout the school property. Serving a variety of needs from school-wide communications to classroom instruction to virtual collaboration, the digital displays create an atmosphere of innovation and help prepare students for real-world careers where technology is common.
A local AV Systems integration team led by Keith Taylor and Heather Corbin, CTS of Solutionz, Inc., worked closely with Marietta City Schools and the general contractor to coordinate industry best practices for display signage infrastructure. According to Taylor, Marietta College & Career Academy’s new technology is worthy of a college campus.
“Georgia is focused on making its education system more workforce-oriented, and to do so, the schools need to reflect workplace realities,” said Taylor. “For our part, we helped the school design and implement a consolidated system of LG displays that extends through the entire campus. This centrally-controlled display network reflects what college campuses are currently doing, and the benefits include eliminating the need for ineffective paper signage, increasing energy efficiency by enabling school-wide automation for startup and shutdown each day, and delivering more dynamic learning environments that help increase student engagement.”
Taylor and Corbin emphasized that while the building’s new J-Hall, a 55,000-square-foot addition, received the bulk of the new LG digital displays, a minimum of 15 displays are also now active in hallways throughout existing areas of the school.
“This school may never need to print a pamphlet or brochure again,” Corbin added. “Administrators have determined that paper signs and posters just do not engage students who all have digital screens in their pockets, and they expect important messages to be delivered in a modern way. That is not a fad that’s going to reverse, so the school invested in platforms they know the students respond to and are interested in.”
Jason Meade, Associate Principal and Career Pathways Supervisor said, “The full display network is quite a marvel for a public high school.” Starting in the Career Center, where students can speak with college training experts and career counselors, the college and career sections of the space each feature a 3×1 vertical video wall composed of 75–inch LG 4K displays, plus four smaller adjacent displays, he explained. Like many of the school’s new displays, these two video walls and eight adjacent displays are centrally operated through a Crestron control system and offer wireless content sharing, HDMI input through wall-mounted ports, and screen sharing from mobile devices.
In the Grand Entry Hall students are kept informed by eight 49-inch LG displays mounted above doors and windows. These displays present the same digital signage content found on all the hallway displays, which is distributed through a third-party data distribution service (DDS).
“In classrooms, the displays command higher attention and allow teachers great flexibility in lesson presentations. The game design classroom is one of the most display-heavy areas in the school, with its two separate rooms each containing three 2×2 video walls with 49-inch displays, giving instructors six 98-inch ultra HD canvases. Having multiple video walls increases flexibility for upper-level courses that often have fewer students, and it provides additional opportunity to enhance social distancing as schools work to ensure student and staff safety,” added Meade.
Torey Bradley, Director of Technology & Information Systems for Marietta City Schools, noted how the traditional education system was uprooted in 2020, and how this College & Career Academy’s timely investment in communications technologies aided educators and students throughout the school year.
“So much about in-person experiences have changed in the last year, it’s really fortuitous that Marietta City Schools had already planned and invested in this display network,” Bradley said. “The school’s handle on technology has been instrumental to students’ continued success throughout the Covid pandemic. The college and career counselors have been able to use video collaboration services to connect with students to plan their futures, and even orchestrate Zoom-based virtual job shadowing. I imagine this is the direction all schools will go, because virtual collaboration is not going to go away – in fact it will only become more important in the future.”
Outside the hallways and core classrooms, a new “Board Room” in J-Hall offers a more open-style 25-seat meeting space complete with a 3×3 LG video wall. Overlooking the school’s football field, the multi-use room is used to host internal meetings, conduct virtual interviews with job candidates, and as a classroom for smaller upper-level courses that include regular discussion, not just teacher-led instruction.
For graduations, ceremonies, and major announcements, the system can stream a single video feed to every display and video wall on campus, offering every person in the building the opportunity to witness the events. This includes the J-Hall entrance atrium, which features four LG displays on opposite sides of the room.
“As students return to school and staff begins exploring the display network’s full potential, they hope to have meaningful content on every screen at all times students are in the building,” Meade said. “As a school dedicated to the career success of its students, Marietta College & Career Academy offers a roadmap for other schools looking to leverage cutting-edge technologies to more deeply engage students and provide real-world experiences to carry far past high school.”