Lamar School in Meridian, Mississippi, offers advanced education to students from kindergarten through twelfth grade. As a private school, Lamar seeks to offer a complete experience for students in all areas of interest, from academics to the arts and athletics.
As part of a comprehensive renovation plan, Lamar School recently commissioned an update to the audio systems in the cafeteria and gymnasium as well as those at the soccer and football fields. School principal Leigh Ann Ballou brought in audio engineer Tom Stuckman to design and implement the new sound systems. Tom’s approach focused on making the systems easy to use for the staff tasked with operating them for a broad range of school functions.
He also considered how schools use their equipment in various situations with ever-evolving demands. To that end, he designed the audio systems to be reliable, flexible and simple to navigate.
Soccer is now entrenched as a mainstay athletic endeavor in schools across the country and cohabits the school calendar with football and baseball for outdoor competition. To complement the soccer field’s new scoreboard, an end-fire outdoor-rated speaker system was the logical choice for play-by-play and interim announcements. Tom chose a pair of IP56 rated Peavey Elements 115C passive speakers powered by an existing amplifier/mixer the school owned. The USA-built Elements 115Cs feature weather-rated components plus reduced weight, thanks to innovative construction materials used in the cabinetry. Elements also boast rotatable horns, which proved effective in Tom’s configuration of horizontally stacked cabinets. In this layout, vertical dispersion was narrowed while the throw was increased without constricting the horizontal dispersion pattern. By mounting the mixer to a wheeled cart and attaching a 150’ umbilical cable to a reel, Tom was able to create a simple, reliable solution for the field, which lacks a pressbox. The cart system includes a Peavey mic and an STI media playback interface, meaning speech and music aspects can be controlled from the sidelines and then put away securely once the game has concluded. Tom installed a weatherproof box with power and NL4 terminals to the base of the scoreboard to complete the simplified connectivity.
For the football field, the existence of a press box made a more permanent installation possible. Typically, the press box is located on the home side of the field and offers a convenient location for near-field speaker mounting while the far-field bleachers are covered by light-pole mounted speakers near the sidelines and aimed across the gridiron.
Unfortunately, this common scenario carries an unwanted acoustic side effect since the sound originates in different planes, resulting in a loss of intelligibility for the fans. To resolve this issue, Tom decided to mount both the home and guest speakers on the same poles on the near side of the field. With four Elements 115C speakers attached to two light-poles in line with one another, he directed two cabinets to the home side and two toward the guest bleachers. Thanks to the enclosed press box, all the electronics were mounted in a rack away from the weather.
Mixing duties are handled by a Peavey PV10BT mixer feeding into a Crest ProLite 5.0 advanced Class D power amplifier. Back inside the school building, the gymnasium and cafeteria / auditorium (“cafetorium”) were in need of upgrades to match the superior sound now available at the ball fields. In the cafetorium, the need was multifaceted, spanning everything from plays to PTA meetings to band recitals. Tom selected a trio of décor-matching Peavey SSE-12 speakers arranged in an exploded (or spaced) cluster above and in front of the performance stage.
Due to the school’s diverse requirements for the room, he added a Digitool MX16 digital processor as a voltage controlled system mixer for each application in addition to its standard duties as an LMS (Loudspeaker Management System). A custom panel with simple mute toggle switches for the PVM18S lectern mic, dual PVM480 overhead mics and front sources complete the straightforward arrangement.
With its typical harsh acoustics, the gymnasium proved to be the most challenging portion of the upgrades. To mitigate the inherent room issues, Tom considered arraying several small speakers along each line of bleachers, but settled instead on a single central cluster supported by a custom octagonal 2”angle-iron grid with four Peavey QW2F mains flown horn down below the grid and two SP118 subs secured atop. The grid is attached to the structural steel via aircraft cable. With its point-source orientation in the center of the gym, the speaker system generates energy from a single location, thus avoiding the pitfalls of multiple sources spread throughout the space.
Two Crest ProLite 3.0DSP power amplifiers with digital processing handle both the crossover and power duties for the system while a Peavey PV10BT mixer with Bluetooth corrals the inputs and outputs. All the electronic components are housed in a custom rack.
The combination of the large-format drivers and horns in the QW2F mains with the 18” woofers in the SP118s deliver concert-level sound reinforcement for pep rallies, basketball games and special musical events.
Thanks to the innovative work of Tom Stuckman utilizing reliable Peavey components, Lamar School now has sound systems to match the quality of the education their teachers and administrators bring to the classroom every day.