Walker Borgmann ’22 has always been curious about technology, especially the intricacies of video production. When he arrived at St. Andrew’s as a seventh grader, he took that curiosity and ran with it.
Quickly rising in the ranks of the crew of St. Andrew’s stage shows, Borgmann became the go-to student not just for theater productions, but, in a world now dependent on video technology, the go-to for major school events, including the virtual Fund-a-Scholar Gala and the upcoming end-of-year ceremonies.
“It is very humbling to be trusted with things that, at a typical school, a faculty member or even outside company would be in charge of,” Borgmann said. “I never thought I would be a junior in high school and be the go-to-guy for every event involving technology.”
Borgmann earned his chops sweeping the MacDonald Hall stage as an eighth grader and working on backstage projects with Technical Theatre Director Ben Zastrow over the summer. He took the skills he learned working with Zastrow to his church, where he ran cables and microphones while also learning how to use a Tricaster video production system – a skill that would be invaluable just a few years later when he helped broadcast the 2021 Fund-a-Scholar Gala
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Borgmann could be spotted in the Mac Hall theater booth as he ran the slides and audio board during Morning Meeting, or assisting with microphones and sound during assemblies, concerts, and special events like the Homecoming Walk for the Homeless.
“At St. Andrew’s, I can use that knowledge and grow and have these amazing experiences,” Borgmann said. “The everyday events made it less of hobby, but rather something I did as part of my career at St. Andrew’s.
“If nothing else, I strive to learn something new every time. I’m a guy who really likes learning, and even if I don’t get anything out of it other than, ‘I learned how to use this new piece of equipment. I know how to help someone in this way with my skills,’ it’s something I really enjoy.”
When school moved online in March 2020, so, too, did all of the events. Borgmann took on the challenge of engineering a solution for the St. Andrew’s Players that would deliver virtual shows to the community. While the technology they utilized for the fall play readings helped the crew successfully broadcast the shows, there were limits on how it could be used and how many people could use it at one time.
Borgmann found his solution for the winter musical, “Working,”
from a Reddit post about streaming technologies. That’s where he first discovered Rivet, a new remote streaming broadcast tool. It checked all the boxes, working seamlessly in different scenarios, but there were still some bugs to be worked out. So, he reached out to Rivet’s development team, and was invited to meet with the CEO, Corey Behnke.
“I get on a Zoom with him, and he says, ‘This is not a use case we envisioned. We would like to work with you and your school to help us develop this technology in a way that helps multiple people,’” Borgmann said. “Since then I’ve helped people create systems extremely similar to the way we use it at St. Andrew’s.”
From there, Borgmann and Zastrow partnered with Rivet as part of a case study; the cast and crew would have free access to Rivet, including new features, and in exchange, they would send the Rivet development team feedback on the product. The musical was successfully broadcast in late March and rebroadcast in April using Rivet.
As Borgmann looks ahead to his senior year and going to college – he aspires to study technical theater and lend his expertise to a nonprofit venue or an institution – he realizes he’s created a niche at St. Andrew’s that may be hard to fill. He’s hopeful that the new film and video production courses launching next year will drive up interest among Middle and Upper School students and help them discover a passion for broadcasting and filmmaking.
“These opportunities have motivated me to help my family, friends, and neighbors with their tech needs, as well as teachers in the classroom,” Borgmann said. “When I came to St. Andrew’s, I realized I can do things I enjoy, and I’m supported as I do it.”