Students raise $4K, teachers lose locks
Club raises $4,000 for cancer research
Members of the Kiwanis Builders Club at Benjamin Stoddert Middle School raised more than $4,000 for Relay for Life and were rewarded with a symbolic display of support for the cause by two teachers on Tuesday.
In front of a packed auditorium, band director Daniel DiCocco and sixth grade teacher Holly Walsh watched locks of their hair fall to the floor as students and teachers applauded and cheered them on. During her haircut, Walsh clutched a photo of her maternal grandmother, who died of cancer in 2010. She broke into tears as she addressed the students.
“I’m not crying because I lost my hair, I’m crying because I lost my grandmother,” Walsh said. “For me, that’s what this is about.”
The club collected donations outside of local businesses in Waldorf and La Plata, and also charged students $1 to attend Tuesday’s event. DiCocco agreed to have his head shaved if the students raised more than $2,000, while the threshold was $4,000 for Walsh. The original plan was to just have DiCocco participate, as the group was at $2,400 last week, but a late spike in donations gave the paying customers a bonus treat.
“I thought it would be a pretty hard task, not that I didn’t think they could do it,” DiCocco said. “But for them to double that is really impressive.”
The club and its sponsors brought in Diane Richards of Nancy’s Beauty Shop in Waldorf to serve as hairdresser. Richards survived double breast cancer in 2000. She placed a mat on the floor with a stool in the middle, and fitted her two subjects with barber capes. After DiCocco’s head was buzzed, Walsh hopped on the stool. She turned around with her back to the students so Richards could chop off her ponytail, which will be donated to Wigs for Kids.
“She’s brave, she loves her hair,” said Builders Club vice president Tayler Somer ville.
The Builders Club is an international student-led program that focuses on service and leadership development. The Stoddert group held a winter dance last year to raise money for a nearby soup kitchen. The eight members hatched the idea for the cancer research project about a month ago, and asked several teachers about being involved before finding a willing pair.
“We wanted … kids to see in real life what it’s like [with the disease],” said Builders Club president Alyssa Gerhart.
Walsh spent the morning teaching a lesson on why she was going to have her head shaved. She explained to her class the importance of being passionate about a cause, and had the kids write a paragraph about causes for which they would shave their heads.
“To talk out the reasoning behind it was kinda powerful,” Walsh said.
From left: Benjamin Stoddert Kiwanis Builders Club members Sarah Sbordone, 14, and Tayler Somerville, 14, of Waldorf, band director Daniel DiCocco, sixth grade teacher Holly Walsh, club members Alyssa Gerhart, 14, and Monet Fisette, 12, of Waldorf helped raise more than $4,000 for Relay For Life.