MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- It's the beginning of a new era at a Twin Cities middle school.
Students now have access to a state-of-the-art, multi-media lab thanks to an initiative that honors Prince's legacy.
Manuela Testolini is continuing the work her ex-husband Prince started.
"When we started our search, we thought we wanted to be back in north Minneapolis so we can be back in the old neighborhood, so that was important. And then we found Franklin [Middle School], and then I found Mr. B., who was, you know, just an amazing teacher and leader with his Future Boys And Girls group. I mean, it's just a perfect match," Testolini said. "We have our Love For One Another Initiative which focuses on the philanthropic legacy of Prince and the work that we did together in Minneapolis, amplifying kids' voices and really giving them the opportunity to cultivate their creativity."
Testolini helped turn a space inside Franklin Middle School's library into a state-of-the-art multi-media lab.
Dave Hampton was the engineer behind Prince's Paisley Park. He hopes students and teachers use this gift to stimulate their creative and academic abilities.
"The ability to just have it all around you and reach to it is what's going to give you that tactile advantage by the time you get in high school, college," Hampton said. "There is even an ability here for teachers to come spend time in the lab and re-educated themselves on the tools, because it's an ever-changing world, and just the engagement of the educational community with the technical community, and how we bring non-lineal learning into the learning template."
Inside the multi-media recording studio is space to record music, beats, a podcast, ebooks and whatever kids can dream up.
This is a special homecoming for Andre Cymone. He and Prince grew up down the street from the school.
"That's what I was telling the kids, I said, 'If you don't chase your dreams, you won't catch it [laughs]!'" Cymone said. "You got to let that inspiration, you know, push you and say, 'I'm going to do this.'"
He says it's important to him, and it was important to Prince, to give back to the neighborhood that gave them both so much.
"It's also important to just show up, to be here physically, to say, 'Listen ... I'm like you. I came from here, you know ... I'm no different than you are.' The only thing is I just decided I'm going to do this, you know. There's nothing stopping you from saying, 'I'm going to do this,'" Cymone said.
The hope is this new space will allow these young people the opportunity to do exactly what their heart desires.
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