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Corpus Christi Caller-Times
They're at the Hooks and American Bank Center, and soon you'll be seeing them at the next King versus Carroll game as they replay the last touchdown. Behind the cameras and up in the booth, however, are students who are gaining valuable experience.
Whether you realize it or not, big multimedia screens are a big part of sports games. They let the audience see a close-up replay of something that could've been harder to see from where they were sitting. It could also let you see what you missed while you were in the bathroom.
The video boards in Corpus Christi ISD were planned with funds from a 2016 bond that was passed and now two new screens will be making their debut this fall at Cabaniss Stadium and Buc Stadium.
The 26 x 46-foot screens will be fully operational by the time football season starts and to top it off will have students working them.
For CCISD, each screen will have a total of three students working them to start off. The students will work the cameras for the games, but as time goes on could work their way up to the booth.
Xavier Barrientez, a Miller High School media teacher, who will be overseeing the staff for the screens and will make sure the students are trained, says that this opportunity will let students gain some real-world skills for their future.
"The systems and skills that they learn are some that they will use when they leave," Barrientez said. "Even if they don't continue with video, they still have skills that will help them."
While the students will only be running the cameras at first, Barrientez says that in time they will move up to the control booth.
Part of the Career Technical Education program, the students will get paid for their work and some of it can even go toward college credit.
"For the class, they are going to work on videos for the games, do camerawork like spirit cam or replays and produce content for advertisements or the games," Barrientez said. "It will be fast-paced and sometimes hard, but once they get the hang of it, it will be good for everyone."
Can students do the fast-paced job or even learn anything from it? At Gregory-Portland High School, the students have shown that the video boards aren't just a part-time gig for extra credit.
Since 2016, Gregory-Portland High School has had a video board at their stadium and had students running the show. The small team of students goes beyond just the games, making advertisements for sponsors, shooting and editing interviews and whatever else pops up.
David Rains, the video tech teacher for Gregory-Portland High School who oversees the video board, says the boards are a way for students to get ahead.
"The skills that students learn to work these boards aren't skills that they'll never use again. The systems and editing skills are the same ones they'd use professionally," Rains said.
Aside from the boards, the students in the video tech program do the morning announcements, furthering their video and editing skills and introducing them to more advanced systems.
Senior Sara Maher has been with the program since her freshman year and has worked her way up.
"I've always been into AV. When I was a kid I even started my own video club at my old school," Maher said. "When I moved here and found out there was a class for it I wanted to be in it really badly because I knew it would be something I would love."
Taking the introductory video tech class, Maher's long love of video soon gave her a step up.
"When I got into the class I told Rains that I had done [the Corpus Christi Seven Day Film Festival] before and he told me he remembered my film and that I didn't need to be in here but in the next class," Maher said.
Over three years, Maher has adapted to the challenges of learning new and advanced software, editing and interviewing.
"I learned very quickly that I was very good at video and editing and started being with the older kids in more advanced classes," Maher said. "It's really fun and challenging and it's always something new."
Most students start with the morning announcements, then work their way up to man the cameras and the control booth.
"Sara will probably be the main director for this football season," Rains said. "Knowing her though, she will probably let some of the other kids jump on and watch over them."
And while some of the students will not continue on working in the video field, the skills that the students learn from working on the video boards could set them up for a career.
Ariana Jones is a 2018 graduate of Gregory-Portland High School who spent four years in video tech classes, two years working the video boards and now has spent one summer working the video boards at Whataburger Field.
"When they were putting up the screens, Rains asked if I would be interested in helping out during football season and then I got hooked," Jones said.
Always having an interest in video, Jones was a natural and quickly mastered how to work the screens and says she became a "jack-of-all-trades" when it came to the games.
"It's high-paced and you have to do everything, so you have to be flexible, but it's really exciting," Jones said.
After working two years on the screens, she decided to keep going and started working with the video boards at Whataburger Field earlier this summer.
While she will be continuing her education in Ohio this Fall, she says she won't lose this passion.
"Everything I learned working the games in high school really helped me with my new job," Jones said. "It's pretty much the same system and the same work, but it's not something you just learn."
Jones also sees first-hand how the screens are a part of the game just as much as the band or cheer team.
"The screens add a new factor to the game," Jones said. "They add a new dimension that makes it better for people watching and better for students who are working them. It's a win-win for everyone."
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