July 19, 2024

Theater and Library Upgrades Set the Stage for K–12 Creatives

Author: marquita.brown_tC0Z
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Theater and Library Upgrades Set the Stage for K–12 Creatives
marquita.brown_tC0Z
Mon, 07/01/2019 – 06:10

Students at Middlesex County Vocational and Technical Schools are preparing for careers, but not in the way that many associate with traditional vo-tech education. These students dance, direct films, create graphic design and work sound boards, among a host of other creative endeavors. At the New Jersey school’s East Brunswick campus, much of this work happens in the auditorium, which by 2018 was decidedly insufficient.

“When I came on board, we had a top-of-the-line mixing board that was being wasted because the old sound system rattled and hummed. You couldn’t get immersive sound because the speaker system was so outdated,” says Michael Cappiello, principal of MCVTS’ East Brunswick campus. “A big part of our educational value is having the kids be very hands-on and fully immersed, and the old auditorium and equipment just couldn’t allow the students to do what they needed to do. The place was behind the times.”

A top-to-bottom upgrade of the auditorium’s audiovisual components, completed this year, has been a big leap forward. Acoustical engineers, in collaboration with theater and technical arts teachers, designed the space so that it could serve as a theater — not just an auditorium. Instead of simply adding rear-facing speakers, for instance, the school installed speakers throughout the space for a surround sound experience.

Students debuted the new equipment at the Thomas Edison Black Maria Film Festival in March, to much fanfare.

“The sound that came across — with the surround sound and the lows and the highs and the way the sound came in and out — was awesome, start to finish,” says Cappiello.

The upgrade has also opened up opportunities that weren’t possible in the past, he says. This fall, East Brunswick will launch a music technology and performance program that will incorporate the AV equipment, says Jeffrey Bicsko, MCVTS’ assistant superintendent. He was the principal at East Brunswick when the project started.

Karen J. Bannan is a freelance writer and editor who has written for a variety of publications including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Time and CIO.