WENDELL — East Wake High School social studies teacher Mike Costantino hasn’t cut his hair since August.
That may change this week if the East Wake student body meets its goal of raising $500 for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, which helps fund research of childhood cancer.
Twenty school staff members including the principals of all four small schools have agreed to put their hair in scissors’ way. But how many of those teachers will actually lose their doos in a head shaving slated for this Friday, Feb. 7, will depend on how much money is collected for the cause. The shaving is planned for halftime of the East Wake boys’ basketball game against Clayton.
“Since we had 20 teachers, we decided to have the names in a list and every time we collect $25 we move up a level to another teacher, who agrees to shave their head,” said Lane Adams, a junior in the School of Engineering Systems who initiated the event.
Adams described the list as a hierarchy, with the more influential teachers and those with the most hair placed higher on the list. He stressed that he made it clear to all participating teachers they are equally important to the cause, because without the teacher at the $25 spot, the students could never get to the $500 teacher.
Costantino, who is both popular with students and normally sports a full head of hair, has been a longtime lock to be the target of the $500 goal.
Adams had targeted Costantino when trying to organize a St. Baldrick’s event last April, but Costantino was reluctant to give up his curls. Something Costantino saw during the spring 2013 track season changed his stance.
“I wasn’t initially keen on the event,” Costantino said, “but there was a track athlete, a really good distance runner in the conference, who had been diagnosed with cancer his senior year. He was trying to compete and was in a lot of pain and I said if he’s got the guts to go through with that, I can definitely go bald.
“There wasn’t a second doubt in my mind.”
Adams was drawn to the cause after seeing a St. Baldrick’s poster in a restaurant and later speaking with a friend who had participated in a head-shaving event.
“I realized how little we know about something so real and present,” Adams said. “One in five children who have pediatric cancer will die. Pediatric cancer kills more kids than pretty much all other illnesses combined. We’re able to go to school and there’s people who can’t do that.
“I decided, then, to get the school in on it and start raising money.”
Over the past month, Adams gained approval from the school and the commitment from the teachers for the fundraiser. He’s advertised the event on posters displayed all over campus and through his broadcasting role on East Wake’s afternoon announcements.
He said other students have taken it upon themselves to collect donations individually, and that everyone seems to be buying into the effort. As of Wednesday, two days of collecting donations had yielded $122.
Students have until the end of the school day on Friday to donate. The public can also donate, but public donations will not be factored into the students quest to shave the heads of their teachers.
Lane, who plans to give up his hair alongside participating teachers, hopes to be able to hold a St. Baldrick’s fundraiser again his senior year and hopes another student or club will take over the initiative after he graduates.
In the meantime, Costantino is now having fun with the fundraiser. After nearly a half a year without a haircut, he describes the status of his hair as an Afro that “hasn’t really reached the Dr. J stage of things, but it’s definitely on its way.”
“Apparently there’s a group of seniors who put a bounty out on my hair,” he said. “It’s kind of flattering just to know that my hair is being held in such high esteem. That feels good. I’m up for the challenge.”
Moody: 919-829-4806; Twitter: @easternwakenews