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Nevada school district invests in the future with ETC Ion

Ion in Clark County schools

School budgets are tight - like the way you tug your scarf on a windy January morning kind of tight - so most public schools cannot frequently upgrade technology, and when they do invest in classrooms, gyms or theaters, they have to make the right choice since they'll be using it for years to come.

When Nevada's Clark County School District needed to upgrade its aging theater equipment, the district - which spans 9,000 square miles and includes Las Vegas - chose ETC Ion® lighting desks to bring its 37 theaters into the 21st century.

An Ion is now in all 35 Clark County High School theaters and its performing arts high school and middle school. Many of these high schools were built somewhere between 1992 and 2005. When each school was built, it had a state-of-the-art performing arts space, says Gary Sessa, a teacher in the district as well as the theater taskforce chair for secondary fine arts in the Clark County School District. But what was state of the art in the mid-90s needed an update. 

Ion in Clark County schools

Sessa and some other teachers and students in the district had the opportunity to try out ETC consoles before making any decisions. "We really liked what the products could do, and that was probably the big factor in deciding which way we were going with this," says Sessa.

One of his favorite new capabilities is using the Ions to effortlessly control moving lights. "The consoles we had previously could not do moving lights," he explains. "The first lighting console I worked with in the district was a two-channel preset board, and it was functional for the time, but we've moved a long way from two-channel presets, and I need to be able to have total control of everything that I'm doing. The Ions also have expanded DMX universes on them, which is really nice. We're able to have two monitors hooked up to them so we can see our live show as well as our playback. It's very user friendly."

Moving lights made a recent Clark County school production of Peter Pan more spectacular. "We used about ten moving lights for that show, and we had some terrific effects that we were able to achieve," describes Sessa. "If we hadn't been able to use the moving lights, I don't think it would have been as impressive as it was, but because we had the Ion, we were able to do that."

Ion in Clark County schools

When Sessa and other teachers and students have questions about their Ions, they've found many of their answers watching ETC's YouTube channel, www.youtube.com/user/ETCVideoLibrary . When they've needed more assistance, they've appreciated ETC's top-notch tech support. "I don't think I've ever called them and not been able to get in touch with somebody who can help," says Sessa. "That's the kind of customer support you don't get from a lot of places."

He also likes Ion's intuitive syntax: "It talks the way most people talk. You don't have to sit there and try to interpret what the board wants you to do, and I had to do that with some of the older consoles that we've had."

Now the theaters are ready for this century. "Their selection - the Ion - was the best solution for Clark County and the best solution to futureproof the facilities for changing technologies," concludes Randy Pybas, west coast regional manager for ETC. "A whole new generation of Clark County students will be using ETC controls. They'll be prepared when they go out into the real world."

Photos © Chelsea Gregory