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Claremont Courier - A Local Nonprofit Newsroom

Students show love with hair-cutting assembly

On Monday students and staff at Mountain View Elementary school pulled a Rapunzel and let down their hair, only to have it summarily chopped off.

The tresses, nearly 11 feet in all, will be donated to Locks of Love. The nonprofit will use the hair for high-quality wigs, given to kids who have lost their hair due to conditions like cancer and alopecia. 

Among the eight donors, the most recognizable was Mountain View Principal Natalie Taylor. The annual hair-cutting assembly, however, has been a campus staple since before Ms. Taylor began her official tenure last year.

Fifth/sixth grade combination teacher Paula Asinas—who joined the administrator and six students in taking the chair for a tremendous trim—coordinated the event. She has been donating her fast-growing hair to Locks of Love for many years, but it wasn’t until the 2011-2012 school year that she decided to encourage some bold students to join her in the philanthropic endeavor.

You need enough hair to donate a ponytail of at least 10 inches to participate in the hair-cutting assembly. Want more numbers? It takes 15 ponytails to make a single wig. Fourth grader Arianna Pacheco didn’t have that much to contribute but, having unusually thick hair, she had hers parted into several ponytails.

When it comes to sheer amount, Arianna was the day’s clear winner. Every student who took the stage, however, was a champ. After all, it’s nerve-wracking to face two fears at once: a drastically changed hairstyle and an onstage appearance in front of your peers.

Luckily, the slew of kids packed into the multi-purpose room was supportive, gasping and cheering as kids took the plunge. As usual, Ms. Pacheco recruited hairstylists like Mountain View parent Monike Medina, wielding rulers and ready to give the kids a stylish cut after the initial hack.

And the recipients of the school’s follicular gift will be looking stylish, too. Locks Of Love’s hairpieces, which would retail from $3,500 to $6,000, are not your average wigs. They are custom-made, attaching with a vacuum seal that makes them hold fast, and can even be worn while swimming and showering. The organization provides the prostheses for free or on a sliding scale to families who would not be able to afford such a high-quality hairpiece.

Another donor, fifth grader Alyssa Garcia, made her dad Miguel proud.

“I was all for it,” he said. “I know she’s going to like it because it’s hard to dry all that hair. And she’s a good person, so it’s something she would do.”

Victoria Acevido, in fourth grade, was yet another student moved to do a good thing.

“The commercial where kids were bald, it made me so sad I wanted to help them. I’m looking forward to next time,” Victoria said. “I’d like to say it feels nice to do something for someone other than myself. And my hair feels lighter.”

According to the Locks of Love website, the gift of hair can be a life-changing experience: “This sense of security allows the children to get back their self-confidence and be kids again.”

Kudos to all assembly participants, who made a big impression on their fellow Mustangs.

“I think it’s amazing,” sixth grader Thomas Stephens said. “They’re willing to give up their hair for other people.”

There are other benefits to having your kid participate in a hair donation besides the more obvious aspect of instilling a sense of giving.

Kindergartner Madyson Ryneer’s mom Kristy Ann Ryneer had been hoping her daughter would submit to a haircut for some time.

“She’s not a good hair brusher, so I’ve been talking to her about Locks of Love and I showed her the YouTube video,” she said.

There were a few tears and moments of apprehension before the assembly, Ms. Ryneer shared. But Madyson left the stage with a cute bob, just in time for summer, leaving behind a gift that will keep on giving.

—Sarah Torribio

storribio@claremont-courier.com

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