Hair galore

Mar. 8—OTTUWMA — It started with students mingling with adoptable dogs in the rear courtyard of Evans Middle School Thursday afternoon. About 30 minutes later, adults' heads were shaved in the Evans Middle School gymnasium.

How they got there has been a month in the making, according to seventh-grade social studies teacher Cooper Smith.

Smith, teacher Michael Jacks, substitute Andrew Canny and superintendent Mike McGrory left the building with little-to-no hair as part of donation drive initiated in Smith's class. The goal was to rack up as much in donations, food and cash for Heartland Humane Society, with students being able to shave heads if certain goals were met.

"It far exceeded my expectations," Smith said. "I expected a couple hundred food items and a couple hundred toy items."

Instead, placed in the center of the gymnasium floor were multiple carts full of large packages of dog food, and other items such as dog beds and toys. In all, over 1,300 items and over $1,100 was collected, all to benefit the humane society.

"When you realize the most important thing is doing things for others, it makes you feel good about the difference it makes," McGrory told the full gym of students before getting his head shaved. "I can't tell you how super proud of you."

Smith's class was studying a unit on globalization, and there were four tiers students could strive for in the donation efforts.

"I included shaving my head in the initial deal, and then they wanted to set a couple higher goals for Mr. Canny and Mr. Jacks, just in case they could get there," he said. "We knew they would get to me, but we didn't think they would get to Mr. Jacks or Mr. Canny.

"They just nailed it."

The drive began at the start of February and closed at the end of the month. It was a difficult start, Smith said.

"The first week was really slow because we hadn't announced the rewards," he said. "But that Friday we put into our building newscast and we included the goals. From there it took off."

The first goal was to collect 150 food or miscellaneous items and 100 toy or bed items, which led to the dogs going to the school. The next goal was 250 and 200, and then Smith's head was shaved.

After that, if the donations reached 400 and 300, Canny's head was shaved. The fourth goal was 500 of each, leading to Jacks' head being shaved.

However, a wrinkle came from the school district's central office, and McGrory was offered up to have his head shaved.

"I didn't find out about Mr. McGrory until just a couple days ago," Smith said. "But apparently he had given his central office staff the same deal, and if they could hit it, he would do it."

Heartland Humane Society manager Pam Ratliff was at a loss when she found out the students were doing this.

"I don't know how he got started, but just helping the animals and to teach the kids how to care and give back," she said. "I just think it's really awesome the kids did this."

Ratliff said the no-kill animal shelter won't have a food shortage for a while, but the $1,100 will come in handy as it pays vet bills.

"These kids love their animals," Smith said. "I'm just blown away by how they were able to do this."

— Chad Drury can be reached at cdrury@ottumwacourier.com, and on Twitter @ChadDrury