Students at a high school in Philadelphia are enjoying a new recording studio after Drake donated $75,000 to complete the ambitious project. Although the studio was finished last summer, budget issues caused the search for a music teacher for the space.
The Strawberry Mansion High School has a reputation for being troubled, and principal Linda Cliatt-Wayman has said she has done all she can do to limit the violence on campus and improve the school, writes Danielle Young for The New Pittsburgh Courier.
After Drake heard about the challenges faced by the school on a news report, he decided to make a surprise appearance at the school during a concert tour in October, 2013 and to donate the money in an effort to help lift the spirits of the entire school.
The report, which aired on ABC News, paid careful attention to Wayman’s efforts to improve the school, which is located in one of the city’s poorest and most dangerous neighborhoods. Although assaults on campus have dramatically decreased since she came to the school two years ago, the school continues to struggle in the areas of academics and resources, as less than 25% of the students at the school perform at grade level in the areas of math and reading.
“This is about you. This is about your principal. This is about your future,” he said. “I love you. I care about you. I want to see you succeed,” Drake told the students.
Members of Drake’s crew worked all summer to put the studio together by purchasing new keyboards and equipment, in addition to cleaning and painting the existing sound booths at the school which had been long unused.
The studio was completed last summer, but due to budgeting problems along with the school’s violent reputation, it had been difficult finding a teacher for the space. “We thought we were going to be ready to go in September. They’ve been dying to get in” to the studio, Wayman said of the students.
The school recently hired a part-time music teacher, Ben Diamond, and has opened the studio, although Principal Wayman reports that the students are hesitant to make use of the equipment. Some students did not even believe the space existed, causing Wayman to need to play a song that had been recorded in the studio over the PA system in the school in order to get students to sign up for the course. Once they heard the music, about 50 teens signed up, reports Kathy Matheson for The Huffington Post.
“You have to prove everything to them,” said Wayman. “So many people disappoint them.”
The studio has been inspiring to many students so far this year, allowing them the opportunity to collaborate and work together.
“Many of them don’t have very many other reasons to be excited about coming to school,” Diamond said. “To be able to give them an outlet for things they want to express is very special.”
A connection between Drake and the school can be found on his new album, If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late, which features Philadelphia rapper Meek Mill, who attended Strawberry Mansion High School.