Both in academics and athletics, Goshen High School has been living up to its status as the flagship institution of the upstate New York Goshen Central School District: the Boys’ Varsity Tennis team has not lost a conference title in over 10 years, and its Mock Trial team has won the Orange County championship for nine years.
So when the District underwent a $40 million renovation in 2019, the lion’s share of that went to Goshen High School, which saw its classrooms and common areas updated, and its 650-seat theater/auditorium refreshed from the floor up. That included an L-Acoustics ARCS Wide and Focus sound system, supplied by Firehouse Productions and integrated by LiveWire Sound and Image, with the renovation done by project architect LAN Associates and acoustical consulting by WSDG.
The school’s ARCS WiFo system—consisting of three ARCS WiFo units plus an SB18 subwoofer per side in a left-right system, along with two delay points with two ARCS WiFo units each, all powered by three LA4X amplified controllers—has taken the school’s main venue, used for theatrical productions, town-hall meetings, talent shows and a range of other scholastic and community purposes, to an entirely new level.
The new sound system in the theater brought together a great sound system with a forward-looking school that was seeking the finest audio technology for its updated venue. But it also brought together two people who have a long history with Goshen High School. Joe Fedor has been the technology teacher at Goshen High for over two decades, a “New Age shop teacher,” as he wittily describes his role in guiding students through the constantly evolving STEAM—science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics—curricula critical in high school today.
For the decision and installation of the ARCS WiFo system, he worked with Nick Bechard, project manager at Firehouse Productions, but also a student of Fedor’s 15 years ago. “We often have our graduates return to give back to the school, and this was a great example of that,” says Fedor.
Budgets are always tight in primary education, even when there’s the better part of $40 million on the table. As Fedor points out, though, that had to cover major projects for the school, such as classrooms, labs and the sports stadium. However, the auditorium has tremendous educational value, used for teaching theater arts and sciences, a place where students would be operating its systems, including the PA.
“It had to be a great sound system; one that covered all the seats yet kept the sound off of the walls, so speech would be clear and intelligible, and music would sound warm and full,” says Fedor. “But it also had to be a user-friendly system, since students would often be the ones running it.”
He trusted Bechard when the integrator told him that the L-Acoustics system was the best choice, despite a slightly higher cost than a system previously under consideration there. “Costs are important in education,” he acknowledges, “but so is quality, and the fact that we want a system that will not only physically last for years to come but also be state-of-the-art for that time, as well. L-Acoustics meets those requirements.”
Bechard spent most of his K-12 years in the Goshen Central School District’s schools, including four years at Goshen High, so he wanted the school’s renaissance to be done right. “The auditorium has to handle a lot of things, from meetings to music, so it has to sound great and be just about ‘plug and play’ operationally, and the ARCS WiFo system does that,” he says. “The system has been getting nothing but rave reviews where we’ve used it. And it solved a decision we had had to make: the school had been going back and forth over whether to use a point-source type PA system, like they had in place before, or a line array system. The ARCS WiFo does both: It works basically like a point-source system but one that can be configured with a variable curvature, like a line array. So the value was clear—the ARCS WiFo system accomplished everything they needed it to, and the school now has a sound system that will last for years.”