It wasn’t charity. It was a sign of solidarity.
Throughout the halls of Dakota Ridge High School last week, sign after sign delivered the message: Everyone is affected by cancer. It’s a fact students and faculty at Dakota Ridge know all too well.
One of the school’s own, social studies teacher and student government adviser Keary Sullivan, was diagnosed with cancer in June. To show support and to raise money for cancer research, several members of the school’s student government came up with a plan: Let’s shave teachers’ heads.
The group sold tickets to students for a chance to shave a teacher’s head in front of the student body on Dec. 5. And 12 teachers let students deprive them of their follicles.
“Everyone is affected by this,” said school counselor Nile Smith, who sacrificed his long locks. “It’s just a great way to show solidarity from family and friends.”
While Smith had been growing his hair “so I could have a ponytail and relive my 20s,” he didn’t hesitate to participate.
Most of the students who won a chance to buzz a teacher’s head seemed to relish wielding the razor, one of the student barbers had some reservations.
“I didn’t want to do it at all. I think hair not in someone’s head is gross,” said junior Lauren Hopp, 16. “I only bought one ticket. Some of my friends bought five. But I did it because it was for a great cause. And it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.”
Several female students and teachers had their long hair cut short and donated to Locks of Love, including sophomore Jordan McIntire, 15.
McIntire wanted to do more than just donate money or some hair. She participated to honor her aunt, who has been diagnosed with breast cancer.
So McIntire lined up to have her hair, which cascaded down her back, completely shorn and donated.
“I want people to know you’re beautiful even if you don’t have hair,” she said. “It’s hair — it will grow back.”
After McIntire was finished in the barber’s chair, the students gave her a standing ovation.
“I applaud Jordan for doing that,” said senior Bradley Carney, 17, who helped organize the event. “It takes a lot of courage to do what she did.”
The event, which Aura Salon helped put on, was just one of several fund-raising events the school has staged in the past few weeks.
Madison Suazo, a senior at Dakota Ridge, said the student government reached out to Chatfield and Columbine high schools to join the fund-raising efforts. The amalgamation of the three schools, “ChaKotaBine,” raised more than $16,000 for cancer research, Suazo said.
“(Sullivan is) just such a big part of this school,” Suazo said. “We just wanted to show her how much we support her and come together as a community.”
For Sullivan, known around the school as “Sully,” it was overwhelming to see the support from her community.
“It’s been a big deal for them to see me go through this process,” Sullivan said. “So many people know someone or are affected themselves by cancer.”
Contact Ramsey Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org or 303-933-2233, ext. 22, and follow him on Twitter @RamseyColumbine.