Blacksburg students cut teacher’s hair for cancer
BLACKSBURG — Michael Kubala held a pair of scissors to the head of his third-grade teacher Kim Dickerson Friday as fellow students at Gilbert Linkous Elementary School chanted, “Cut her hair!”
No, this wasn’t some sort of elementary-aged uprising against the adults.
In fact, most of the school’s faculty couldn’t have been happier to watch not one, but three students each cut off 10-inch segments of Dickerson’s hair as a part of the third grades’, “Cut out Cancer” service project.
Throughout October students across the school purchased $1 raffle tickets in hopes of winning the honor of cutting Dickerson’s hair, which will be donated to Pantene Beautiful Lengths, and amassing $663 dollars which will be donated to the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life.
The event marked the fifth time Dickerson has donated her hair to a cancer-related charity, a cause that for her, hits very close to home.
Dickerson said three years ago her mother, Donna Dickerson, was diagnosed with two forms of cancer. Over the course of eight surgeries and 12 chemo treatments, she said the only time she saw her mother cry was when she lost her hair.
Though Friday was the grand finale, Dickerson said the project began more than two years ago when a group of her then third-grade students approached her about the possibility of them donating their hair. She told them if they grew their hair out for two years, she would join them and together they would donate their locks.
Now fifth-graders, the six students and Dickerson’s hair made up part of 27 ponytails donated Friday to the Pantene group, which according to their website has donated 24,000 real hair wigs to the American Cancer Society’s wig banks.
While donating their hair and raising money to help fight cancer excited the majority of Gilbert Linkous students, their biggest thrill came as the three lucky raffle winners stepped up to the barber’s chair in front of the entire school via the school’s closed circuit television network.
Michael, who was one of two students out of Dickerson’s class to win the raffle, admitted showing off his barber skills in front of that many people was a bit daunting.
“It was exciting, but it felt a little weird that I was in front of everyone on the TV,” Michael said.
His classmate and fellow winner Teagan Bowyer agreed the situation was a little nerve racking, but said she’d learned during the project that what the students were doing was for a larger cause.
“It’s not all about us,” Teagan said.
That was likely music to Dickerson’s ears, who said following the broadcasted haircut she felt it was her job to help her students develop a sense of compassion for those less fortunate.
“It’s hard to teach kids to care,” Dickerson said.
Principal Carol Kahler agreed and said that was one of the main reasons each grade level at the school had taken on their own service project this year.
As for this particular project, Kahler said the goal had originally been to raise $100 and collect 10 ponytails and was very impressed at how much both marks had been surpassed by.
“It’s far exceeded my expectations,” Kahler said.
Dickerson said the project had even expanded to outside of the school walls, with many family members of students donating hair and “On A Whim Giftware and Accessories” in Blacksburg donating $250 to the cause.
While the project’s success surpassed what many hoped, the hair styling skills of elementary school students were pretty much on par with expectations, but that didn’t seem to bother Dickerson at all.
“I mean, it’s just hair,” Dickerson said.
Before returning to class, however, Dickerson did receive just a tiny bit of tidying up courtesy of Mary Anne Jennelle from Meredith’s Salon.
The Roanoke Times | 381-1643
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