GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (GRPS) — Dozens of community leaders, alumni, and staff gathered Tuesday evening to celebrate the new Music Production & Entrepreneurship program at Ottawa Hills High School.

The studio, years in the making, opened this year as part of the Academy of Media Production at OHHS. Students participating in the class get hands-on experience with top-of-the-line, industry-grade equipment. Not only do they learn to create music, they also learn about the business of music and entrepreneurship.

Tuesday’s event drew some 200 community members to the mall at Ottawa Hills High School where they had the chance to hear from OHHS grads who left the school and went on to reach celebrity status in the music and media production industry.

Gregory Williams, one of the members of the R & B Funk group known as Switch, R & B singer Adina Howard, and legendary gospel artist Marvin Sapp all sent video messages for the event.

“I think this is fantastic. I applaud your efforts here,” Williams said. “Take advantage of this opportunity. We did not have anything like this when I was coming up… I still hold dearly my old school and I suggest you do to.”

“I used to roam the halls at Ottawa Hills as a freshman,” Howard said in her message. “I think (the program) will cultivate creativity. It will inspire career exploration. I think it will help impart valuable skills needed in the digital world that we live in today.”

“I’m so very excited to celebrate this amazing occasion,” Sapp said. “What I received from Ottawa Hills High School was not just an education, I received pride about who I am as an individual. Hopefully, prayerfully, each and every one of you all as you matriculate through the school and are a part of the media production component, that it will be something that will enhance your life and that it will make you better… My prayer is simply this for each and every one of you all, that the rest of your days from this moment on will be the best of your days.”

State Representative Kristian Grant, an Ottawa Hills graduate was among several dignitaries in attendance for the evening celebration. Past school board members and former Ottawa Hills High School administrators were also present to celebrate the occasion.

“We stand on the shoulders of those who have come before and the great history of this school community,” GRPS Superintendent Dr. Leadriane Roby said to the crowd. “This has been years in the making and we want to call out our Grand Rapids school Board of Education both past and present who supported this important work.”

The Music Production and Entrepreneurship program was designed by Ottawa Hills graduate Lucius Hoskins, class of 1997. He has been hands-on in bringing the project to life, from construction to implementation in the classroom. He was emotional as he spoke to supporters gathered for the ceremony.

“I’ve done this before but to come home and do it —,” Hoskins said as he wiped away tears. “I’m very passionate about Ottawa.” 

Kenneth Brown, an OHHS freshman who is taking the Music Production and Entrepreneurship class did the honors of cutting the ribbon as the crowd gathered outside the studio door. The crowd cheered as the ribbon was cut. Some began to shout “O-H-H-S” in a showing of pride for the school.

School leaders are hopeful that the Academy of Media Production will inspire growth at OHHS and an opportunity to expand academy program offerings at the school.

“We want each of our young people to see this investment and to take pride in what we have to offer here at Ottawa Hills High School,” OHHS Principal Dr. Timothy Mabin said. “We’re trying to ‘Restore the rOHr’. We want to reinvigorate our hallways, reignite the pride in our school, and re-inspire our young people to accomplish greatness.”

Watch the full ribbon cutting ceremony and see the photo gallery below.