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High School Musical at an Auditorium of Dreams

In an investment for students, Valor Christian High School builds a state-of-the-art performance venue.

The school's stated goal is to be the premiere Christian arts high school in the country.

When Valor Christian High School first opened its doors in 2007, the Highlands Ranch, Col., school set out on a mission to provide its students with the opportunity to achieve the highest level of academic, artistic and athletic achievement possible with a motto, "Influence Through Excellence."

The school's stated goal is to be the premiere Christian arts high school in the country.

Jody Goff, director of finance and operations for the school, said one of the keys of bringing this vision was the development of a top-of-the-line, technologically-advanced performing arts center. So, in 2013, it set plans in motion for the Valor Center for Culture and Influence.

A Grand Plan

The new state-of-the-art center, which was to encompass theater, film, music, animation, dancing, design, studio arts and photography, would showcase media and arts, which are crucial to the school's culture. The plan's scope also aimed at improving the school's connection with their surrounding communities.

Kurt Butler, owner of Butler Engineering & Technology Group, was hired for the job and served as the school's liaison for all aspects of technology on the $9 million project.

"We interviewed the entire staff to determine everything they dreamed of utilizing if given such a building. As a result we ended up establishing a technical programing document to outline their goals," Butler says. "In the end, we did everything related to AVL and acoustics, as well as IT and security."

Although not in on the original schematics for the development, Butler and his team integrated quickly with the rest of the design team and went forth with a full design for IT and security.

It was then that Butler reached out to Bill Simmons, senior lighting designer of Clair Solutions who is known for his live production expertise - to ask if the company would take on Christian Valor in a design/build effort. Progress was soon underway. The two had partnered together previously on numerous churches, where they shared a solid give-and-take relationship.

"Part of our goal was to build a campus-wide network within the building, and to promote digital audio, digital video and digital lighting protocols," Butler tells. "The main core and theater had been predesigned. We didn't want to reinvent the wheel so I asked Clair to provide a solution that would be a variable coverage system. We ended up using Clair's I208 product with their matching subs."

Simmons notes that when he first looked at the plans, the original consultants involved were designing a high school "out of the '90s" with a band shell and full orchestra shell. He knew that the plans needed to be updated before moving ahead.

"What we pride ourselves in is really trying to build on and think through all sides of the installation," Simmons shares. "We were all working as a team for the same outcome. Over the course of the project, there were many changes that ended up happening as their funding increased."

At the Heart of Christian Valor

Arie Ringnalda, director of Valor Arts+Media, says the Valor Center Performance Hall fulfills their desire to offer students a top-level experience in arts, with the idea that this experience will offer students tremendous preparation for college, career and life pursuits.

"We believe arts are a portal to our culturea way that we can speak God's truth in eloquent, compelling ways," Ringnalda notes. "Helping our students become thoughtful, skilled and creative communicators who impact culture is our goal and the Valor Center is a key tool in that regard. We also believe the Valor Center strengthens other areas of our schoolwe use it for a myriad of events, such as debates, various ceremonies, speaker series and many other cultural opportunities."

The Valor Center is also used to bless the community by offering arts, entertainment and cultural events of value that are family-friendly, redemptive and reflective of its core faith in Christ.

Some recent events include a Building 429/Jamie Grace benefit concert for Hope Rising Haiti, the Kalos Film Festival, Transformed (its winter arts exhibition and extravaganza), plus several productions including the musical Pippin.

"People are blown away by the Valor Center. It's a world-class facility right here in Highlands Ranch," Ringnalda says. "Students realize they are blessed to be able to learn and perform in such an amazing environment. Most even realize that the colleges they pursue may not have a facility at this level, or the opportunities it provides for that matter. Community patrons that come to our events are always impressed, and usually become long term patrons of our events."

Full Spectrum Audio and Video

Overall, Clair Solutions designed and installed AVL systems throughout the venue including a 750-seat performance hall, a recording studio, the main lobby, an event lobby, two dance studios, a medium and a large rehearsal hall, a black box theatre and a TV studio.

"They wanted to do everything from a violin concerto with their classically trained violinists, to a full rock musical production," Simmons tells. "One of the things they had performed was silk aerials and that was something very important to the students. Once the fly system was fully implemented, we spent lots of time figuring out how they could safely perform a fly."

Simmons recalls the design process began with study of the space's architecture and acoustical design, so he could determine the best length and position for arrays that needed installation. Once that was finished, he created a 3D model with the arrays spatially located to develop a sculpted continuously-variable waveguide.

Clair Solutions came up with a variable acoustical system through the use of motorized curtains, which Simmons says works well with the facilities hugely diverse range of performances. It allows the acoustical environment of the space to be fine tuned for whatever is planned.

Because the school was looking for a no-compromise loudspeaker solution, Clair Solutions added custom, asymmetrical waveguides built into one of its existing line array systems, which helped acoustical amplitude shading as well as consistent frequency coverage throughout the seating area.

The custom PA for Valor Christian is amplified by Clair Brothers' iS118-I flow sub arrays and CS218 subwoofers, along with kiT12 full range loudspeakers for sound effects and 12CX-75 coaxial loudspeakers for balcony delays.

The install also features a one-of-a-kind L-C-R PA, which was custom designed and the power for the system comes from Lab.gruppen D Series 80:4L amplifiers, offering a truly tailored sound system.

"From the control side of it, we used a DiGiCo SD10 for the main front of house and SD11 for the control room," Butler said. "Labgruppen CB-PLM10K and CB-PLM14K amplifiers, and we coupled it with BSS audio as well for areas building distribution primarily."

For the recording studio, Valor has on its faculty a multiple Grammy winning, Christian artistMarty Magehee.  With his advanced experience in recording, Clair Solutions consulted with Magehee on the equipment aspect of the recording equipment.

On the video side of things, a Ross Video Carbonite switcher was installed because Simmons explained that it would help expand future video capabilities. The system also included a Barco HDX-W20 center projector, 2 Sony VPLFHZ700L/B side projectors and a Clear-Com HelixnetNet Intercom System.

Complete Package Lighting System

Butler included a full lighting package consisting of more than 152 ETC fixtures ranging from standard Source Four ellipsoidal fixtures to more versatile LED color-changing fixtures. The system also features 10 Elation Platinum FLX 3-in-1 luminaires, which can be utilized as a beam, spot, or wash fixture.

"We chose the True Power modules in the central relay so they can have multiple identities, whether an on source or a relay source," Butler says. "They have a number of different lighting options."

The complete lighting package includes 142 Source Four fixtures, 20 Desire D60 Vivid
LED luminaires, eight Source Four LED Series 2 Lustr fixtures, 12 ColorSource PAR LEDs and eight ColorSource Spot LED profiles, among others. The system also includes 10 Elation Platinum FLX three-in-one luminaires, which can be utilized as a beam, spot or wash fixture.

"ETC's Sensor3 48-module dimmer rack and Echo relay panels serve as the backbone of the performance hall's theatrical lighting system, however, the lighting package includes more than 220 ETC fixtures in total," Simmons notes.

Bright Future

The Valor Center for Culture and Influence was completed in August of 2015 but the school is now looking to have other areas of the project completed in the 2017.

"Part of what was not completed -  due to funds and timeline issues - was an automated rigging system in the theater, so that is currently in the works," Butler says. "There are also some additions for the recording studio, plans for a black box theater and more lighting elements."

Another focus of the new phase will be the school's television broadcast studio.

"There's a room in the basement set up to be a film and TV studio, however Valor doesn't have a student program for television broadcast. We've been after them to hires a teacher to head up a program, and then we can tailor equipment based on the teacher's specifications," Simmons explains. "Just as we did with the recording studio, we want to work with individuals who will be a big part of this for the future."


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