Published

Simplifying School-Wide Communication with an Integrated Bell, Intercom and PA System

The School

The Frederick County Middle School in Winchester Virginia, has all the makings of a modern 21st century learning facility. Designed to be student-centered, high performing and highly adaptable, the construction has 180,000 square feet of space and capacity for 900 students.

The school, which opened at the beginning of the September 2016/2017 school year, replaces the original middle school built in 1965.

The space includes a media center, outdoor learning spaces, a fitness suite and nine distinct learning communities where students engage in core classes such as English, math, social studies and science. Learning spaces are inviting, brightly colored and filled with easy-to-move, stools and beanbag chairs, making it quick and easy to re-calibrate classrooms to suit any learning activity.

Meeting school communication needs

To complement this well-thought-out new learning space—administrators and design staff alike wanted a bell and PA system that ensured the school didn’t face the same school-wide communication challenges that plague many schools— including poor sound quality, complicated controls that require paying a technician to make simple changes, and rigid rules that don’t allow for flexible bell schedules and adjustable zones.

At Frederick County Middle School, administrators and staff wanted a customizable paging and bell system that could easily address individual classrooms, specific grade levels or particular learning zones. They also needed an uncomplicated school intercom system to communicate with administrative offices dispersed throughout the school and accommodate customized bell schedules for different grades and for early dismissals.

Dellea Underwood, a network engineer who worked on the new construction says the school chose FrontRow Conductor—a bell, paging and alert system—because it perfectly serves their varied needs for addressing students and staff.

Underwood says Conductor is also easy to use and completely customizable. Staff can create, access, and modify zones, schedules, messages, and more from a single platform with a simple interface – all without paying for help from an outside consultant or technician.

"This makes communication throughout the school a whole lot easier on the admin staff...the integration with our existing FrontRow products made it a complete package. It just made sense."
Rob Yost
Director of Information Technology
Frederick County School District

Because Conductor met Frederick County Middle School’s needs so well, Rob Yost, Frederick County School District’s Director of Information Technology, says Conductor effectively serves forty-five typical classrooms and 10-12 additional learning areas at the school, as well as common areas such as the cafeteria, gym, and all administrative offices.

Seamless integration

Yost says integration was a key factor in choosing FrontRow Conductor. While the design team looked at several possible solutions, Conductor stood out because it integrated seamlessly with other FrontRow products used throughout the school including the Juno classroom audio system which teachers use to amplify their voices for students and to enhance learning.

“Sixty to 70 percent of our teachers are using FrontRow’s pendant mics where they wear the mic and utilize them in the classroom,” explains Yost. “What’s great is the Juno product is integrated with Conductor, so there are only four speakers in each classroom that serve as voice amplification, PA and the bells,” explains Yost.

“The integration with our existing FrontRow products made it a complete package. It just made sense,” explains Yost.

Benefits

Yost says staff report communicating with specific groups within the building is easy with FrontRow Conductor.

While there is a main office area within the school, other administration areas are distributed throughout the building including admin offices located within each of the nine learning community areas. With FrontRow Conductor’s easy-to-use controls and flexibility these distributed admin offices can all be easily zoned together so they all receive the same information despite being spread throughout the school.

“This makes communication throughout the school a whole lot easier on the admin staff,” explains Yost.

Administrators can also use FrontRow Conductor to create different bell schedules for different grade levels. “For example, sixth grade has their own bell schedule while seventh and eighth grade are on the same bell schedule,” explains Yost.