Small Town, Big Dreams

The rural town of Utica, Nebraska, upgraded Centennial Public School’s outdoor and indoor scoring systems to video boards. Their story serves as inspiration for many small schools with big dreams.


Categories: High School Sports

Hands-on experiences that lead to careers. An amped up game environment. Annual revenue. Advertising for local businesses.

All of this is possible with a video board. When your school invests in a video board, you are investing in so much more than a dynamic scoring device – you are investing in your students, fans, athletes, and whole community.

Centennial Public School in Nebraska proved that schools of any size can make this happen.

“We are a consolidated school district made up of 6 communities, the largest of those 6 has just under 900 citizens. Our school enrollment bounces around between 390 and 410 students. That’s K-12 all under one roof.”

Making the Decision

After attending a Nebraska Athletic Directors meeting and talking with their local Daktronics rep, Jenny Wagner brought the idea of installing a video board at Centennial to the school board. After much discussion, they decided to visit Brookings, South Dakota, to see what Daktronics is all about.

They toured the facility, saw the production, witnessed our reliability testing, and met a few of our workers.

“The components are built right there, next door to where things are put together. Not a lot of things are brought in from other countries, and the fact that Daktronics has been in business for over 50 years now, we felt confident in the quality of the product, and that we would be supported if we have any issues.”

When Wagner, Bargen, and others decided a Daktronics video board was the route they wanted to take, many were still skeptical that their small school and community would be able to afford this addition, but Wagner had a plan.

Fund Raising and Giving Back to the Community

Working with Daktronics to develop a comprehensive marketing plan, Wagner began reaching out to sponsors and donors. They created partnerships with many local businesses to display advertisements for their products and services on the video board during games and other events.

“I had a lot of phone calls, a lot of meetings, and within one week raised almost $220,000,” she said.

Just as students and staff see the board as a great asset to the school, business owners see it as a great opportunity to deliver their message to the community.

“It was a great marketing plan for us, how we were able to see everything broken down and what our investment was going to be.”

All funds came from sponsorships, not taxes. The revenue exceeded the cost of the board, bringing in profit to their school.

“Not only did we cover the cost of the payments we need to make each year, but we also are generating a little bit of revenue that we get to put back into our budget.

Creating Opportunities for Students

Video boards are great opportunities for students to have fun learning to create graphics, animations, videos, and to put on a production during a game. These skills could open the door to jobs in college or careers later in life.

“I heard that we were getting a video board here at Centennial, and I was super stoked…It doesn’t even feel like a class, it just feels like something fun you’re doing at school to help promote everything going on around you.

Event production gives students a chance to showcase their skills while practicing with the same technology that professional facilities use. The experience these high school kids are gaining make them valuable to collegiate level event production teams – they are already trained and know how to operate all the equipment!

Students are also learning about the growing field of digital marketing.

 “We’re really lucky that our anchor and premier sponsors are coming in and talking to us. We’re doing some ads for them, and the kids ask the questions. We’re talking about branding, we’re talking about graphics, we’re talking about advertising.”

Event production gives students who aren’t in sports the opportunity to put on a great show and entertain the crowd.

With kids proudly displaying their work and growing their skills, event production really takes your games to the next level.

“I think it’s awesome for our small school to have an environment of a big school,” Wagner said.

Moving Forward

Centennial is just in the beginning stages of learning to use their video board. So much more is in store for them as they learn to better execute their game production and marketing strategies. In four or five years they will have 40-50,000 dollars coming in each year.

While the revenue benefits the school, the curriculum is paving the way for many students.

“I want to go to college for this, and I want to pursue a career in it,” Carson said. “I would like to go to a college that has a Daktronics board.”

Both the students and faculty are still sorting through things and discovering more and more they can do with their video board.

Watch the full video and learn more here.