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Westminster Public Schools

Where Education is Personal

Shaw Heights Fights Cancer



Their heads were cold, but their hearts were warm.

The winter break was chilly for all of us, but especially for a group of Shaw Heights teachers and students, who bared their heads for a very good cause.

On the Friday before Winter Break, Shaw Heights Middle School raised about $350 for the fight against cancer by shaving their heads and cutting their hair in solidarity with teacher Alberta Villa who is battling breast cancer and lost her hair to chemotherapy. Villa has been a literacy teacher at the school for 15 years.

“I have had incredible support all along,” she said. “This lets you know that you are not alone.”

The fundraiser was the idea of eighth grade student Morgan Burrier who was the first student to have her head shaved. “I have had many people in my family affected by cancer,” she said. “This feels really good.”

Her mother, Denon, was on hand to see her daughter’s beautiful head of hair fall away from her cleanly shaven head.” I couldn’t be more proud of my daughter,” she beamed. “After all, it’s just your hair.”

Two members of the The American Cancer Society were on hand to support the event and share their appreciation for the school’s efforts. It’s estimated that one in two men and one in three women will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives.

To drive the point home, Principal Mike Carlson asked every student who knew someone affected by cancer to stand, and almost everyone got on their feet.

Among the teachers who shaved it all was music teacher Kathryn Donaldson. Not only is she a good friend of Villa, but she lost her father to cancer 15 years ago. The year after that, her mother was also stricken by cancer, but she survived.

Shaw Donaldson has donated locks of hair to make wigs for chemotherapy patients in the past, but this was the first time she shaved her head completely. “It’s about showing solidarity with cancer patients, and also to support fundraising and awareness,” she said. “This is amazing. It’s a great educational opportunity because it is so inclusive of everyone.”

For those who were not quite ready to lose all their hair, Pantene has a program for people to donate at least eight inches of their hair to create free, real-hair wigs for women with cancer. You can learn more about it here and even donate from the comfort of your own home.

Tuesday night, the Board of Education honored Morgan and her classmates for their efforts with a standing ovation during the regularly scheduled board meeting.

“We’re very proud of your efforts,” said Board President Ruben Pacheco. “It’s very impressive that you would do that.”

Click below to see a video.



Posted January 15, 2015
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