After a year in the making, the wait is over for students at Gardner Street Elementary School.
School officials unveiled the new Michael Jackson Music Education Laboratory Monday morning at the pop star's former elementary school.
The lab is set up in Jackson’s old sixth-grade classroom. Principal Kenneth Urbina said the goal is “to have every child leave the school musically talented.”
The lab is the result of a community effort involving the Hollywood Hills West Neighborhood Council, the Youth Policy Institute, which donated computer hardware, and Adventus, a Canadian company, which donated the lab’s computer software.
"I personally think music can do amazing things for kids especially at a young age," said Marcello Robinson, a board member of the Hollywood Hills West Neighborhood Council.
Gardner Street Elementary School students and parents have raised $8,000 so far, and it will take about $17,000 each year to keep the lab running, said parent Lesley Holmes.
Holmes and Garby Leon are part of the parent-run organization, Friends of Gardnerville. Leon brought the computer software used in the lab to Urbina’s attention after discovering it at home for his daughter, Paloma. He is pleased with how everyone has rallied together to make the lab a success.
“We’ve had a tremendous amount of community support,” Leon said.
Flanked by photos of the superstar and a framed Michael Jackson autograph, students sat down to try out the lab Monday shortly after a ribbon cutting. Lesley Holmes’ daughter, Nya, was eager to sit down along with her fourth-grade classmates to begin to learn about the piano.
“I think it’s really fun and interesting,” she said. “I feel excited because I’ve always wanted to learn how to play.”
Her teacher, Sylvia Chung, said she believes the new lab will greatly benefit her students.
“I think it will give them the basics and a good background in being able to read music, and, hopefully, know how to play as well,” Chung said. “And they’ll make connections to different composers.”
Urbina, who has been at the school for eight years, said getting the music lab off the ground was definitely one of the items on his “bucket list.”
“Our goal is to go through as many lessons as possible, so by the time they leave the sixth-grade, they will compose and write all different types of genre,” Urbina said.
The also donated keyboards to the lab. Monday’s ribbon cutting marked the first grand opening for a lab in Hollywood that is sponsored by the Youth Policy Institute. The institute currently helped launch more than 50 labs in schools throughout Los Angeles County, said Mariana Biagioni, program coordinator.