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School pulls the plug on Christian concert

Posted: Friday, May 28, 2004

Students in a Christian club at Juneau-Douglas High School are upset that the school administration abruptly shut down a lunchtime concert Wednesday.

But Principal Deb Morse said officials didn't know the concert was taking place and wouldn't have approved it if they did.

"It wouldn't matter if it was the Honor Society. That isn't something we would do," she said.

The concert, in a room in the Marie Drake building, was sponsored by the Gathering, a student-led Christian club. About 100 students attended.

The incident was videotaped by Jacob Pierce, an intern at Juneau Christian Center, who was taping part of the concert by Act of Defiance, an Anchorage hard rock band.

After the band finished its first song under a stage light, the room's fluorescent lights came on and Assistant Principal Dale Staley entered the room.

Band member Beau Hodges had just mentioned figuring out something about the sound system when Staley said, "You've got nothing to figure out. You're out of here. I said so. You're out of here. You don't have approval."

Students can be heard booing, and Staley said to them, "Guys, you might as well leave because nothing's going to happen here. It is not approved."

Student Miriah Brown said the club has held three lunchtime concerts and hadn't had to get permission for each concert.

"I just don't understand why they wouldn't let us have the concert, because we've had it three times before," Brown said. A teacher has been present at the concerts.

The club, formed in October, also holds weekly Bible study and prayer meetings in a classroom at lunch on Wednesdays. About 50 students attend, members said.

Morse, the principal, said administrators weren't aware of the previous concerts. She thought the club was holding only the weekly prayer meetings, which were approved.

Students said the Gathering offers them a chance for Christian fellowship.

"I wanted to go and seek out my faith and Christianity, and have fellowship with other students, and not feel alienated and awkward when we seek out knowledge of God," member Carly Varness said.

The concerts are important because they're fun and they draw in other students, she said.

"Not only is it for us believers to worship God," Brian Felix said of the club, "but as a great way to invite our unsaved friends and get them in there and show them we're normal, too."

Hodges said Act of Defiance was presenting an anti-drug and anti-alcohol message. It will perform at 7 p.m. Friday at Juneau Christian Center.

"We work really, really hard," he said. "We came all the way to Juneau. We probably wouldn't have come to Juneau without the opportunity to come to the high school."

• Eric Fry can be reached at eric.fry@juneauempire.com.



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