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St. Croix Central High School library adds green screen

SCC students Kenzi Anderson, Caitlyn Cody and Meghan Weatherly are just a few of the high school students who have taken a turn at using the new green screen equipment available in the school library. (Photo by Jordan Willi)

Every year, school libraries across the state get money from the Common School Fund to help pay for things like books, database usage and other things to help students learn to the best of their abilities.

With the recent changes to the guidelines for the useage of the Common School Fund, St. Croix Central library media specialist Amanda Olson decided to further expand student access to helpful resources by purchasing a green screen and an iPad Pro to run the apps needed to use the screen properly.

"But they have changed the guidelines in the past few years to include more resources that normal classroom teachers don't have access to, such as green screen equipment," Olson said. "I figured that would be a good resource that could be available for all students to use for their projects. I could get it on Amazon relatively cheap, so that is what I did."

With zero knowledge of how to use a green screen, Olson spent much of her time after receiving the equipment playing around with the system to see how it worked.

"The apps that we have on the iPad allow the students to do still pictures with whatever background they choose, or they can chose to do videos with either a still background or a video background," Olson said. "You can use it for newscasting, with sports highlights in the background and things like that. The hardest part about the green screen has been figuring out how to get the files to and from the iPad."

The first time students got a good taste of the green screen was during Halloween when students were able to use the green screen on the school's dress-up day to take pictures of themselves and their friends in their Halloween costumes.

"The use of the green screen has grown as more kids have seen it," Olson said. "Since then, we have had some kids come in and use the screen for projects. Kids can use it for in-school projects or out-of-school projects, like if they have something they want to do for a 4-H project."

Another group of students who plan to use the green screens for projects this year is the yearbook students. The students will use the technology of the green screen to take staff department photos for the yearbook. The technology will allow the students to add a themed background to the staff photos to make the department.

"I'm hoping it gets more and more use for school projects. I can see it being used a lot in speech classes or in social studies classes where you can pretend to be a person from history and be on the scene of some famous event," Olson said. "I know the business education teachers are planning on doing some kind of news program next year, and they got really excited when we got this."

With the green screen getting more and more use, Olson is hoping to eventually purchase audio editing software along with a sound booth station to give students even more of a chance to be creative.

"Anything that would be maker-space type stuff would be great to add to our resources. All of it would tie into the fab lab program we already have, but just be a little more low tech and more creative," Olson said. "The issue with that idea is that those items cost a lot of money, so we will be looking for donations and grant opportunities to help fund those resources, as well as update the library in general. So if anybody would like to make a donation, we would happily accept."

In addition to the green screens at the high school, the district also added a green screen at the middle school. The technology was in use during the last book fair when the library staff had students who came to the book fair dress up like superheros to have their picture taken. The business education teacher at the middle school has also had her students learn to edit video by using the green screen.

"I'd like to say thank you to the state of Wisconsin for having the Common School Fund because I know many states do not, and their library programs suffer because of it," Olson said.

Jordan Willi
Jordan Willi is a reporter for the New Richmond News. Previously, he worked as a sports reporter at the Worthington Daily Globe in Worthington, Minnesota. He also interned at the Hudson Star Observer for two summers and contributed to the Bison Illustrated sports magazine at North Dakota State University.
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