- Associated Press - Monday, May 26, 2014

CHIPPEWA FALLS, Wis. (AP) - The old bar pool table in the rec room of the Chippewa Valley High School was worn with rails that served more as ramps and a mangled rack that took the form of a circle.

Students got heavy use out of the table during their breakfast and lunch breaks, including junior Andrew Martinez. He began petitioning his principal, Dave Schaller, for ideas on how to get a new pool table.

Schaller told Martinez he would draft a letter to local businesses, but later suggested Martinez work with his English teacher to write a letter.

“I said that (the pool table) is our release from stress,” Martinez said about the letter. “Most everyone here enjoys it.”

Swimrite Pools and Spas in Eau Claire was one of two businesses who received the letter from Martinez, and responded with a letter that had junior Alexander King nearly in tears.

“I didn’t know what to do,” said junior Cordell Mishlen, another active pool player. “I think I was in shock.”

Swimrite owner Jamie Schoettl said her company would donate a pool table, new balls and cues, and include delivery and installation. It came with one caveat.

“The pool table is available to your school if you can come up with any way to pay it forward,” Schoettl wrote.

Schaller had already been looking into ways to involve his students in volunteer work at the Wisconsin Veterans Home in Chippewa Falls, across the school on County J. So when the suggestion came to pay it forward, Schaller and his students brainstormed the idea to bus the veterans to the school to play pool with the students.

“They have veterans who like to play pool, and they don’t have a pool table,” Schaller told The Chippewa Herald (https://bit.ly/1lGJfmt).

“It’s a good way to pay it forward, to help them out,” King said.

The school recently held its third pool session, where two residents of the Veterans Home came over for a few rounds of 3-on-3 pool.

Lorraine Campbell said she enjoys visiting the school and meeting the students.

“I have a lot of fun - until I shoot,” she joked.

Campbell and her teammate, Gunther Peterson, were escorted by their activity aide, Debra Frederick, who was corralled into playing pool to even out the number of players.

“I think (the program is) great and I hope it continues,” said Frederick, whom the boys continuously referred to as a pool shark.

After four games, Campbell and Peterson netted a few balls, though Frederick had a hand in bringing their team to victory a few times.

“You can see I need some practice,” Peterson said.

“You’re not the only one,” laughed Campbell.

The volunteer program where students will help out at the Veterans Home is expected to start next year.

For now, the students and residents are swapping stories over games of pool, guiding shots and helping each other learn tricks of the game.

“We get a lot of laughs in,” King said.

___

Information from: The Chippewa Herald, https://www.chippewa.com

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