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PHOENIX - A charter school in downtown Phoenix unveiled to students a major upgrade at their school Thursday afternoon.

The ASU Preparatory Academy, near Seventh and East Fillmore streets, cut the ribbon on a new technology center for students made possible by a partnership between the Pac-12 Conference and Arizona State University.

"Seeing their faces as they walked in here was really rewarding for us," said Rocky Harris, ASU's senior associate athletic director.

"You can see it with these hundreds of kids here and the impact it made on them."

Harris said this is the third school in need the Pac-12 has worked to upgrade since the conference championship game first took place three years ago.

"What they do is they come in and the find a school and they basically do a makeover, just like you see on TV," Harris said.

"They pick one school and try to make a big impact and after they're done in here looking at the technology, they're running a youth football camp outside so the kids get to run around and play too."

Harris said the new technology center features new computers, monitors, tablets and a big screen interactive gaming center for the students.

"Their computers were about 10 years old here; they were antiquated," he said.

The school's CEO Beatriz Rendon said ASU Preparatory Academy is cultivating future Sun Devils and that having access to current technology is critical to helping students become well prepared for college.

"We are working really hard to ensure that our students complete a four-year university degree, compete globally and contribute to their communities," she said. "Technology, quite frankly, is really integral to meeting those objectives."

Harris echoed Rendon's statements, saying that if schools fall behind in technology it's easy for their students to become less competitive with peers.

"It's vital to this generation more than any to be at the cutting edge with technology," Harris said. "You can really be behind if you're not getting the same access to technology as your peers."

The new reveal takes place two days before the third annual Pac-12 Championship game, which pits ASU against Stanford.

Kevin Weiberg, deputy commissioner of the conference said they pick schools to upgrade in the host city of each year's Pac-12 Championship game as a way of giving back to those communities.

"It's been a fantastic year for ASU football and our commitment is to continue to do this across the conference," he said. "So we really do feel like we have a chance to give back to the communities that host these games ... So it's a nice additional element of the game."

Harris said they expect the game to have about $8 million in economic impact to the city of Tempe alone.

"Outside of the community, outreach efforts that game brings, it also brings an economic impact and when the football program at ASU is doing well, the Valley is doing well," he said.

Mark Remillard,

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