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ISD 728 Graduation Simulcasts a Resounding Success

 Last year, upon request from Joe Samek and Superintendent Dan Bittman, ISD728 invested in technology that would enable teams to collaborate and send a video feed from the Field Houses to the district’s new theatres, as well as Zabee Theater for viewing in the overflow seating areas.  In 2018 we welcomed 300 Zabee guests (as in the past) 100, Rogers PAC guests and 50 Zimmerman Auditorium guests.

The vision was expanded this year to be able to reach a broader audience with this equipment. We learned, tested and successfully were able to send the video feed (live stream) to the ISD728 extended families and friends via our ISD728 YouTube page. With some promotional material, communication team efforts and consistent reminders to our graduating students via school principals, the district can report the new venture was a huge success.

“On the evenings of our four graduations, we were able to share our seniors' successes with an additional 500+ community members. In the overflow seating hosted in the theatres, we are to add in the incredible 400+/- watching in the Zabee, 300 in Rogers PAC, 100 at Zimmerman Auditorium which were all made possible with this equipment. We had a total of over 1,100 additional persons celebrating with the full field houses.   Those that couldn't attend due to work, location, physical ability were still able to tune in live to watch a loved one on this momentous occasion,” said Kristina Hess, theater coordinator for the district.  

As a result, the district has received emails such as:

  • "Great work on the graduation live stream -- my dad said "it was just like being there; very nice coverage. Nice ceremony" "  Tracy R.
  • "Our daughter has grandparents who live in Canada ... They were so pumped to be able to watch it! Thanks!" Celine F

ISD728 is among the first in Minnesota to live stream graduations, thanks to this new technology. And, students and families are getting to “relive” the day. Over the first weekend, the YouTube pages had been re-watched 3,017 times.

Students are reliving the memories, hearing the encouragement speeches, perhaps for the first time, outside of all the ceremony excitement. Parents are getting that close up shot of the handshake moment, our community is seeing the support of the superintendent and the board behind each school and each student.

“This year we were able to train in Elk River students: Garret, Owen, MJ, Michael, Chris and Mackenzie; Rogers students: Connor, Ethan, Owen, Emily, Delaney, Mckenzie; and Zimmerman students: Dustin, Victoria, Blake and Melissa, on the industry standard Tricaster and camera equipment,” Hess said. “They set up, programmed preset angles for each night, ran the manual cameras, assisted on sound, and Chris (ER running Ivan Sand) even took over pre-reading the speeches/programs and selecting the transition points of which camera would be live when. He was literally calling the shots!  They loved the experience, even taking it all down, still all smiles! Most of these students are sophomores, they'll be back to learn more next year.”

The simulcasts and archived graduation videos are another way to forge relationships within ISD 728 communities, Bittman said. And, the learning opportunity for students is just a great, added bonus.

“I would like to express my gratitude to the board for allowing us to experiment and learn this technology and share these experiences with our students, and in turn give our families a personal graduation experience. It has been challenging, and collaborative and fun,” he said.

All of the graduation video footage can be seen here, via the ISD 728 Live Stream page.