Stu­dents raise $4K, teach­ers lose locks

Club raises $4,000 for can­cer re­search

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By CHAR­LIE WRIGHT cwright@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @Char­lieIndyNews

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.

STAFF PHOTO BY CHAR­LIE WRIGHT

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.

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