New technology going up in Albert Lea High School
Published 9:00 pm Friday, November 11, 2022
Digital displays, which were first discussed over a year ago, have been going up around Albert Lea High School over the last month, and students want to know why.
“Neal [Skaar] and I talked when I first came into the building [in July 2021],” said Chris Dibble, principal at the high school.
One of the first things Skaar brought up: digital displays.
“As a wrestling official, I had time to walk around and look at what’s going on in the [other] school buildings,” said Skaar, representative for the Albert Lea Education Foundation and school board member. “A lot of them had digital displays which presented information that would be useful for students as they walked into the building, announcements for the day, events coming up and schedules that relate to them scrolling continuously in various spots in the building.”
And he thought they would be a useful addition to the high school.
“Once we got last school year started, I started digging into the process,” Dibble said. “We got a couple different quotes from a couple different companies.”
But as fate would have it, two ALHS 1995 graduates — Scott and Jen Erickson — had a display screen company, TouchPros. The pair reached out to Dibble, and the project started last winter.
“They gave us a really sweet deal,” Skaar said.
The Education Foundation’s role was in finding a donor who would make a significant financial contribution toward the project. And the foundation did: Dale Larson. Larson is a distinguished alumni inducted in 2008 and a founder of Larson Manufacturing. Larson graduated in the class of ’56.
“Larson contributed $25,000,” Skaar said.
According to Dibble, between Larson’s contribution and the Ericksons’ offer, the school has a high-end display system at a really good price.
When it’s all said and done, there will be 10 43-inch displays inside the building, two 45-inch displays and a 65-inch touch-screen.
“It adds a touch of class to the building really,” Dibble said. “Communication is one of our big cornerstones, and so to get something that’s up-to-date technologically advanced in our buildings so students can be more aware of what’s going on.”
He also saw the displays as a way for students to connect with the community.
There are plaques on the walls honoring people, but Skaar said they were hard to read and only accessible at the school.
“Now we have that huge display board where you can find out information about these people that have been honored athletes, educators and alumni in much greater detail than you could realize from looking at those plaques,” he said.
Besides announcements, menus and news, every yearbook will be accessible, though they’re currently being scanned. Athletic teams and activity announcements will also be on the screens. People will be able to contribute pictures using their smartphones through a QR code and email them.
“It’s a big work in progress right now,” Dibble said. “There’s a lot of information to put in there.”
According to Dibble, when completed there will be a display on each of the locker bays, three displays in the cafeteria, four in the upper and lower E-house and one at the front entrance. He did not have a timeframe for when installation would be completed.
The displays were originally set to be installed by July 31, but because of supply chain issues the screens didn’t actually arrive until the end of September. And even though they aren’t all installed, they’ve already drawn attention.
“The kids are just like, ‘What’s with all the TVs,” he said. “We’re like, “Oh, we’ll get to it, you’ll see.”
The display screens are also available to access online at albertlea.touchpros.com.
“This will be a website that will have so much more,” Skaar said. “It’ll have the same stuff that we have on our websites relative to our programs, but it will have in addition to that information that the public and students will be interested in.”
Dibble estimated the total cost for the project was $15,000, and he said the additional $10,000 from Larson, plus money from the Education Foundation, will go toward maintenance. No taxpayer money will fund the project.
“It’s great to have people like this who want to come back and help out their communities that they grew up in,” Dibble said.
He also wanted to thank the Ericksons, as well as Larson for making the project possible.