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Baby, baby, baby, no: Pay up or be forced to listen to Justin Bieber

Charlotte Runzel student council president Jesse Chatz student representative Board Educatihold donaticans. Students EvanstTownship High School reached their $1000 goal

Charlotte Runzel, student council president and Jesse Chatz, student representative to the Board of Education, hold donation cans. Students at Evanston Township High School reached their $1,000 goal after a Justin Bieber song was repeatedly played over the school P.A. system during passing periods in hopes their classmates’ disgust with song would raise enough money to help keep boocoo, a café-art studio/student hangout near the high school, remain open. December 14, 2011. | Richard A. Chapman~Sun-Times

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Updated: January 16, 2012 10:37AM

For someone who isn’t a fan of teen idol Justin Bieber, being forced to listen to one of his songs over and over again could be considered cruel and unusual punishment.

At Evanston Township High School this week, they called it a fund-raiser.

To motivate their fellow students to donate money for a struggling cafe/arts center popular with ETHS kids, seniors Charlotte Runzel and Jesse Chatz persuaded administrators to let them blast Bieber’s hit “Baby” over the school’s loudspeaker system at the end of each class period — and not stop playing the song until Runzel and Chatz had met their goal.

Twenty-some times between Monday and Wednesday, students have been subjected to a song that features this catchy chorus:

“And I was like baby, baby, baby, oh.

Like baby, baby, baby, no.

Like baby, baby, baby, oh.

I thought you’d always be mine.”

Perhaps not surprisingly, Runzel and Chatz, who were given one week to meet their goal of $1,000 for Boocoo cafe on Church Street, were able to raise the money in just three days.

“It made me smile to look at what we can do and look at the money we are raising,” said Chatz.

The song made some other kids grimace, jam their fingers in their ears or question the sanity of school administrators.

“I went to complain, but it didn’t really work out,” said sophomore Justus Smith, 16. “I’m happy they got the money, though.”

Patrick Gallivan, 17, a senior, was a bit more blunt: “It’s actually [expletive deleted].”

Ali Hart, the school’s assistant director of student support and racial equity, said the school encourages fund-raisers that are both “safe” and “really innovative.”

“There were certainly people who disagreed that it was a fun thing,” Hart said. “Some people were truly annoyed, but that’s kind of the incentive. If it wasn’t going to be slightly annoying, then you wouldn’t be motivated to stop the music.”

Alicia Hempfling, Boocoo’s administrator, said Runzel and Chatz’s idea was music to her ears.

“People who work here ... are just incredibly moved by the fact that these kids came to us and wanted to help out Boocoo,” Hempfling said.

She said the nonprofit coffee shop, which also features performance spaces, now plans to provide space — free of charge — for students to do their senior studies presentations.

“We didn’t want to just take advantage of a fund-raiser, just putting it into Boocoo to pay bills — it had to have meaning,” Hempfling said.

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