Graduates of a downtown Wausau alternative high school are planning a concert to help raise money to keep the school open through the year.
Guitarist/singer T.J. Greene and bands North Road Home and Get Bent are set to perform at the Save Storefront Learning Center fundraiser scheduled from 6 p.m. to midnight March 9 at Hoffman House Restaurant in Rib Mountain. The event also will feature auctions and raffles.
Operators of the Storefront Learning Center, at 6051/2 Third St., said on Jan. 30 that a lack of money will force them to close the school on June 30. But if the school can raise $50,000, it can remain open until the end of 2013 and allow 11 of the school’s 23 students the time to earn the credits they need to graduate.
Storefront often is students’ safety net, offering an individualized learning environment designed for those who don’t fit in the traditional school setting. The school helped Paul Kell, 30, now of Sauk City straighten himself out and build a life after he got into trouble with the law as a teenager and was expelled from Newman Catholic High School in Wausau.
Kell is among a group of graduates who are working hard to save the school; he’s soliciting donations from friends and helping as much as he can to organize the fundraiser. “When I was out of options, they were there for me,” he said. “When you are in the position to help, you’ve got to do it.”
Kell went on to attend the University of Wisconsin Marathon County and graduate from UW-Madison with majors in biology and zoology. He works as an engineering technician, refurbishes laboratory equipment and is a volunteer firefighter. He’s not sure what he would have done without Storefront’s help.
“What they do for kids, it’s outstanding,” Kell said.
Storefront director Mary Jaax said donations have been coming in steadily since the closure announcement. So far, a total of about $2,000 has been collected from donors of diverse backgrounds — former teachers, former students and those who just appreciate what Storefront is doing.
Bridget Alspaugh Charbarneau of Rothschild, another former student who is helping organize the fundraiser, believes the efforts to keep Storefront open are gaining traction.
“I think now that we have a place and a date, it’s all coming together,” she said. “All of us are working really well together, because what they’ve done for the community is a great deal, more than the community knows.”