By Reg Chapman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The music of staff and students in Anoka is being used to help families dealing with tough times.

Anoka High School is the backdrop for Symphonic Rock Concert Two, a concert that helps dozens of homeless students.

Hundreds of music lovers packed the school’s auditorium Saturday to hear classic rock tunes like they’ve never heard before.

Bailey Hanson, a junior, said the band takes rock songs and plays them for an orchestra chorus and band.

“It’s pretty awesome,” he said.

The musicians on stage are 200 students from the school’s orchestra and choir, and a rock band made of teachers, staff and even the superintendent.

Mike Halstenson, who arranged the concert’s 19 songs over spring break, said the set list is hard to stop listening to.

“You get done with one [song] and you can’t wait to go to the next piece,” he said.

His students learned the songs in two weeks so they could perform to raise money for the school’s Caring and Sharing Fund.

Denny Carlson, the superintendent, said that people are sometimes surprised to learn there are poor families north of the metro.

“We have the lowest per capita income,” he said. “Only one in four adults has a college degree. So when unemployment hits, we get hit hard. Families are suffering, kids are suffering.”

There are 25 homeless students at Anoka High School and 400 homeless students in the Anoka/Hennepin School District.

Each of the district’s five high schools has a food shelf. The money raised will help re-stock those shelves and provide other things – athletic equipment, winter wear, backpacks — for students in need.

Last year’s event raised $18,000 and helped 76 families. The school hopes to raise more this year, because there is a greater need.
There is an encore performance Sunday at 2 p.m. at the high school.


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