"Shave his head, shave his head, shave his head," Model Elementary School students chanted in the gym Friday afternoon, as Assistant Principal Kyle Abernathy had a hair clipper run across the top of his head.
With students raising over $1,000 for the Pennies for Patients fundraiser to benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Abernathy had to stick by his promise to have his head shaved. After initially sitting in a chair in front of students, he had tried to escape to the hallway and kids yelled for him to be tracked down and brought back.
Once back in the chair, kindergarten teacher April Casey, who used to cut hair professionally, went to work, making something like a tree clearing for power lines on the center of Abernathy's head. She continued on and shaved his head completely, but students still wanted more, calling out "shave his beard." But he was able to keep the beard.
It was the second year of the school participating in the fundraiser — $2,177 was raised last year. The competition was made a tad bit more interesting this year. Four large buckets were designated for the four houses — Nia, Ari, Kenji or Pilar, each have their own seal — students are part of.
Abernathy's house is Nia, so his promise was connected to them raising the most. And they sure did. So students in the house, from kindergarten to fifth grade, were able to battle it out against staff in a volleyball game.
The fundraiser is also a show of support for one of the Model community's own in 2015 graduate Michael Adams. He was diagnosed at the end of his junior year in May 2014 with leukemia and has been battling it for almost four years.
"I'm doing a little better," Adams said while watching the volleyball game, adding that he is currently dealing with avascular necrosis — a condition resulting in the death of bone tissue from a lack of blood supply — in a shoulder and knee. He is currently attending Georgia Highlands College with a focus on computer science.
His mom, Karen Adams, is the PE teacher at the school and she directed the volleyball game. Principal Aimee Hays told kids following Abernathy's head shaving of Michael Adams' story and why their fundraiser is important.
"Everything always gets better," he told the students, adding that someday he hopes that no kid has to go through what he has.