ALBERTVILLE, Ala. -- A student-led fundraiser concert is going on Thursday night despite having been canceled earlier this year by the Marshall County Schools superintendent, who cited concerns about the band's appropriateness.
A few Asbury High School students hustled around a hall at Majestic Venue in Albertville Thursday morning. They were out of school for the Christmas break, and they were getting ready for Candy Cane Rock. "It is a concert to raise funds for FBLA students," said senior Joana Ponce. The kids involved in Future Business Leaders of America were participating in a hands-on learning educational program called Reach and Teach, and this concert, which was part of it, was supposed to happen at Asbury High School back in November.
"There's a nine-lesson curriculum that teaches all kinds of academic lessons, but more importantly, life lessons: leadership, problem-solving, communication skills," explained Velcro Pygmies band member Cameron Flener, talking about Reach and Teach, of which his band is a part of.
The free program gives students real-world experiences in planning and executing all phases of a rock concert at their school, complete with a curriculum that helps students through the process. It ends with an in-school rock concert fundraiser by The Velcro Pygmies.
The administration approved the program, which included the band, months ago. They learned about it at a state conference. "Since it was offered there and promoted by the State Department, then we felt like it had been vetted," Wigley explained.
But, Wigley said several parents called with concerns about the band, so she looked it up. "The band has material online that is not suitable for our audience," Wigley said. She added that included foul language and adult content. As a result, she decided to pull the band back in October with the goal of replacing it.
Wigley said she understands the show during school hours would be appropriate, but she didn't want to provide a link to material she said was unsuitable for students.
Flener said the show Thursday night will be for all ages. "When they first canceled it we were like, we need a way to raise money really good, and the concert is going to raise money like no other fundraiser could, so we thought why not do it ourselves without the school?" Ponce said.
"My stance has not changed," Wigley said, "The online material related to this band does not represent the values of our school system and this concert is in no way affiliated with Asbury High School. Parents need to understand it is not a school-sponsored event and therefore will not have school personnel as chaperones."
The money raised from the concert will go back to the students.