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Napa school district to upgrade Evans Auditorium for internet streaming

The Napa school district’s central auditorium will be upgraded for the new world of internet video streaming.

A package of additions including new transmitters, high-definition video cameras and wireless microphones will allow performances and events to be broadcast live and online from Evans Auditorium, the main performance space of the Napa Valley Unified School District. The public school system’s board approved more than $127,000 for the equipment and installation at its meeting last week.

The system will permit performing arts groups to share concerts and events at Evans Auditorium in real time via Facebook and other online platforms, allowing family and friends who live outside Napa County to virtually join spectators in the seats. Completion of the project, which will be paid for through bond funds already reserved for technology needs, is expected in the spring of 2022, according to NVUSD spokesperson Cass Caulfield.

The venue will gain four new HD cameras, replace a projector and add new cabling to each unit, according to plans filed by Advanced Systems Group, the Emeryville company working with the district. Additionally, the auditorium will receive a new audio mixing board and digital mics, as well as a TriCaster video production system that will stream on-stage productions online.

The Evans Auditorium upgrade will become the latest in a series of projects to make school activities more easily available virtually — an effort that has gained steam since the months-long shutdown of campuses forced by the coronavirus pandemic starting in March 2020, Caulfield said Monday in an email. (Although NVUSD began phasing in a hybrid of in-person and remote learning in October 2020, it did not revert to full-time classroom education for most students until the current school year began in August, after a slowing in COVID-19's spread and the introduction of vaccines.)

Technology upgrades at NVUSD’s boardroom — which shares the district headquarters at Jefferson Street and Lincoln Avenue with the auditorium — has allowed the school board to conduct online meetings and forums from their usual base instead of their homes. The district also streamed high school graduation ceremonies for the Classes of 2020 and 2021, and has shared varsity sports contests on the internet through the Hudl platform.

In the south county, American Canyon High School’s auditorium on the Newell Drive campus is not yet equipped for streaming video but has been identified as a site under review for possible upgrades, according to Caulfield.

The NVUSD auditorium is named for Don Evans, who spent nearly half a century with the district and eventually became its planning and construction director. During his career, he had a hand in a host of projects — including the creation of New Technology High School and American Canyon Middle School — that totaled $750 million, the architect Mark Quattrochi told the Napa Valley Register shortly after Evans’ death in July 2019 at age 76.

Students at Napa's Vichy Elementary School revived their school jogathon after it was cancelled last year due to COVID-19. The kids ran like crazy on Wednesday morning. Take a look here.

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Public Safety Reporter

Howard Yune covers public safety for the Napa Valley Register. He has been a reporter and photographer for the Register since 2011, and previously wrote for the Marysville Appeal-Democrat, Anaheim Bulletin and Coos Bay (Oregon) World.

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