Shorewood schools continued their tradition Wednesday with the shaving of dozens of heads in the name of ending childhood cancer, during an annual event that typifies the community and its residents.
Students, staff and administrators at and took part in the fourth annual Buzz Cuts for the Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer Fund event, raising money through pledges for the local non-profit.
"I really wanted to support the cause and I really thought cutting my hair would make a statement. It was just to support the cause and do something wild and different," said Ellie Wells, a high school sophomore who had hair down to her shoulders before the afternoon event at the high school.
Wells raised $120 from friends, family and businesses who pledged money for her to get her hair chopped. Now she has "almost nothing there."
"It's a little bit weird right now because it feels so different," she said.
The Buzz Cuts event got started at Atwater where students raised more than $2,000. For their charitable work, they got to watch principal Tim Kenney get his head shaved.
But before sitting in the chair in the center of the cafeteria, Kenney reminded students and staff that Atwater has experienced its share of tragedies due to cancer. The school lost a kindergartener to cancer and a mother of two students lost her battle with cancer, both two years ago.
"It is something that is real, it is something that is among us," Kenney said, voice cracking slightly as he addressed the student body. "We are doing this for people that we see every day. But we are also doing this for people we may never know.
Kenney, who wore a shirt with a photograph on the front of his late brother-in-law, who had cancer, read a warning letter to the students that he wrote to cancer.
"Dear cancer, I want to let you know something, you lose," he read. "You will never take away the memories, the hope, the determination to challenge your existence."
About an hour later, Shorewood High School principal Matthew Joynt was getting his head shaved in the high school gymnasium.
"No instructions given," said Joynt, explaining that he had no idea what to expect from his hair cut. "It's one of those unique all-school events that doesn't happen in many places, but happen annually here."
The MACC Fund, founded in 1976, has contributed $41 million to childhood cancer and related blood disorder research.
"This is absolutely amazing," said MACC Fund development officer Lora Kaelber, who attended the events at both schools.