NEWINGTON - The high school was a sea of pink last Friday and hats - typically prohibited by school policy - were commonplace among students and staff.
The Student Council raised $1,351.25 through a week-long effort for Heavenly Hats, an organization that provides hats to cancer patients across the country. Pink ribbons were sold for $1 each throughout the week and anyone who purchased one was allowed to wear a hat Friday.
As it turned out, many students and staff offered more than the minimum donation. Additionally, many felt their contribution didn’t require the incentive to break a school rule.
The nearby Newington Transition Academy, which serves high school graduates until they reach age 21, also donated $100 to the cause. The program even sent NHS a photograph of contributors wearing their hats.
“I am at a loss for words with how proud I am with the student body,” said Council President Lukas Houle, an NHS senior who organized the fundraiser with the help of fellow council members and Principal Terra Tigno. “The reason to donate was of course to provide for people undergoing cancer treatment, fulfilling your moral duty,” Houle added. “But we understand it’s hard to motivate high school students even if it’s for the best cause, so we offered another incentive.”
If the school community reached the council’s $800 goal, one staff member would shave his or her head at the pep rally Nov. 3. The goal was not only met, but nearly doubled. Therefore, members also doubled their promise. Now two staff members will shave their heads.
“We came together as a family, we had fun and it was exciting but it was really about joining forces in support of an amazing cause,” Tigno said this week.
And it’s not over yet.
Students are anticipating a big reveal at the upcoming pep rally. Until then, who will go under the blade remains a secret.
“It’s definitely something everyone’s wondering about, even the adults,” Tigno said.
The head shaving symbolizes hair loss that results from chemotherapy.
“It’s to normalize being bald,” Houle said.
He also knows the identities of the brave staff members who volunteered.
“Both of them have lots of hair. Students are all talking about it. They all have their ideas and all of them are wrong.”
Cancer touches many lives and everyone has loved at least one person who has suffered, Houle pointed out.
“It’s almost a human experience; which is sad. It’s something we can all find a common ground on.”
Heavenly Hats was founded by Anthony Leanna when he was only 10 years old, in 2001. The foundation has distributed more than 3.3 million hats since its inception.
Erica Schmitt can be reached at 860-801-5097, or firstname.lastname@example.org.