Below is a guest post by Steven Juster, teacher at Londonderry High School, NH, and incredible supporter of the Pantene Beautiful Lengths campaign:
On Friday morning, January 7th, 2011, Londonderry High School held its fifth annual Pantene Beautiful Lengths donation event. Formerly part of the school’s winter pep rally, the Pantene Beautiful Lengths event has now grown to where it has become an event all on its own; a fourth “pep rally” called the Celebration of Giving. Sports championship teams are feted, food and clothing drive leaders, among others, are recognized, and the climax is the simultaneous ponytail cut by friends and family, all done on the floor of the gym, without mirrors – the ones you love make the first cut, and stylists are on hand downstairs generously donating their time to style and beautify the newly cut hair.
As over two thousand students and community members watched, a record 207 students, parents of students, and staff had their ponytails cut. In previous years, this 1,750 student high school has had 67, 133,141, 190 and now 207 donors on the floor.
The event itself is clearly a spectacle to see. It is the end of a long journey of growing your hair for this campaign. It makes you look into your life and choose someone to make the cut that means something to you; a trusting friend, a family member or former teacher who has experienced the ravages of cancer and cancer treatment. A few of the many stories are shared on the gym floor that morning.
Most sad, and beautiful, are those who do this in memory of a loved one who cancer overcame – sad in that the person is not here to share in this moment of giving and celebration, and beautiful in that their memory is kept alive by love and positive action.
This year, the honor of calling out the “3-2-1 cut” for the simultaneous donation went to Tammy Tenney and her twenty-year old daughter, Cassie. Tammy’s other daughter, Becca, an LHS junior, passed away from a sudden illness earlier in the school year. Becca is the only Londonderry High School Pantene “Angel” we have ever lost in our five years. Her mom spoke to the crowd about how Becca planned to donate next year, her senior year, for a second time on the pep rally floor, and how Cassie was donating this year, in her sister’s memory. Students have held fund raisers for scholarships in Becca’s memory, and sorely miss this popular student. It meant a great deal to everyone to hear from her mom at the event.
This week, the week after the event, students are seeing everyone’s new look in the hallways. Teachers, staff, and guys whose hair is too short to donate all compliment and support the donors or “angels,” as we all see them. It is clear to all what a wonderful cause this is, and Lancer Nation responds. If every student and teacher were not behind this, it would not be the success it has been. Even in the wrestling room afterward, our makeshift salon, guys would stop in and tell the angels how great they looked.
This year, we have collected close to twenty-five sets of ponytails so far from students who cut at another time during the school year, and bring in their donation. Soon, we will send off the box of donated hair, set next year’s date, and begin collecting permission slips. Here we grow again!
Congrats to Steven and the hair donors, hair cutters and stylists, and to all those who support this inspiring annual event in the Londonderry community!