St. Baldrick's: Educators, students make a shear sacrifice at LCHS

St. Baldrick's: Educators, students make a shear sacrifice at LCHS
Griffin Van Amringe reacts as his dreadlocks are cut. Teachers and students at La Cañada High School shaved their heads for in support of pediatric cancer awareness and LCHS student Melissa Leo, who was recently diagnosed with leukemia, during the St. Baldrick's Day event on Monday, March 17, 2014. (Roger Wilson / Staff Photographer)

Hair today, gone tomorrow — that was the case for five teachers and 15 students at La Cañada High School Monday afternoon, who went under the razor for a worthy cause.

Members of the Bridge Program, an on-campus peer counseling group, held a head-shaving event to raise funds for pediatric cancer research through the nonprofit St. Baldrick's Foundation.

PHOTOS: St. Baldrick's Day head-shaving at La Cañada High School

In front of the North gym, students set up four chairs on a white drop cloth, each with its own electric razor. Social studies teacher and Bridge adviser Gavin Williams welcomed the crowd.

"Children who have cancer, who have to deal with chemotherapy, they don't get to choose how they look, but we do," Williams said, inviting students to the makeshift stage. "They felt it was important to show their empathy and say, 'You're not alone.'"

LCHS Principal Ian McFeat was the opening act. Slowly, carefully, the principal's 'do was coiffed into a sort-of Mohawk before being completely removed. Students in adjacent seats grimaced in mock terror as the razor tore through tufts and curls, leaving fuzz in its wake.

Teachers, administrators and students took their turns, rising up to proudly display chrome domes to a cheering crowd. The grand finale was waiting in the wings — senior Griffin Van Amringe, who'd spent his entire high school career growing a head full of blond dreadlocks, would be the last to be shaved.

His mood? Nervous, and for good reason.

"I haven't had short hair since freshman year," Van Amringe said.


He confessed he'd planned to ditch the dreads before an upcoming performance in "Fiddler on the Roof" in April, but saw this as an opportunity to entice donors to support a good cause.

"It was a good time to do it, so I thought, why not?" he added.

Altogether, students raised $8,722, Williams reported. Some Bridge members, like Van Amringe, used their impending baldness to raise money from friends and family, while others solicited donations the traditional way and spread the word about the event. Another event Friday evening, the Associated Student Body's Mr. La Cañada male beauty pageant, also helped raised funds for St. Baldrick's.

Headquartered in Monrovia, the St. Baldrick's Foundation helped raise $34.3 million last year for pediatric cancer research, in part through local head-shaving events like the one held at LCHS.


Pediatric cancer is something that's recently hit close to home on the La Cañada High campus, according Bridge member Josie Kamida. Senior Melissa Leo, who recently received a diagnosis of leukemia, was not present for the event but was on students' minds. Also, among the shavees was junior Zac Main, a Bridge member who won his battle with the disease after having been diagnosed as a child.


"We wanted to show our support as a Bridge class in recognizing what [Zac] went through when he was younger, and for Melissa we wanted to show larger support for her as a united student body," Kamida said of the event.

When the last head was cleared, shavees posed for a group picture as students filed back to class. Crews began to clear up the shearings.

"Thank you very much Spartans," Williams called out on the mike. "You did a very good thing."



Follow Sara Cardine on Twitter: @SaraCardine.