Freshly shaved Stagg High School junior Oswaldo Macias, of Bridgeview, reacts as he watches his classmate Max Slanda, of Orland Park, gets his St. Baldrick's haircut at the Palos Hills school on St. Patrick's Day. (Photos by Dermot Connolly)

Freshly shaved Stagg High School junior Oswaldo Macias, of Bridgeview, reacts as he watches his classmate Max Slanda, of Orland Park, gets his St. Baldrick's haircut at the Palos Hills school on St. Patrick's Day. (Photos by Dermot Connolly)

At Stagg, bald is beautiful for St. Baldrick’s Foundation

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Anne Reedy, a Spanish teacher at Stagg High School, gets her hair cut for St. Baldrick’s Day at the Palos Hills school. This is the third straight year that Reedy, a cancer survivor herself, has participated in the annual event to raise money for research into childhood cancer.

By Dermot Connolly

Students and staff at Stagg and Sandburg high schools raised thousands of dollars for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation on St. Patrick’s Day, with many going all out and getting their heads shaved.

Leah Ellis, a counselor at Stagg, has been coordinating the Palos Hills school’s participation in the annual fundraiser for the past seven years. She noted that Stagg has been involved with the St. Baldrick’s charity since 2005.

“About 25 kids and staff are getting their heads shaved,” said Ellis on Friday morning, March 17, as students lined up at her table to give cash donations or buy T-shirts or other memorabilia. while others lined up for the traditional head-shaving.

“Our goal is to raise $10,000 and I think we surpassed that,” said Ellis.

“It’s not a free haircut,” she noted, explaining that everyone getting a haircut had to donate at least $10. But most collected and gave much more than that.

regional stagg baldricks1 2023

As Stagg High School junior Max Slanda, of Palos Park, smiles as his classmate Oswaldo Macias, of Bridgeview, gets his head shaved for St. Baldrick’s Day, and fellow junior Aiden Mendoza, of Orland Park (at left), waits patiently for his turn under the trimmer.

While St. Baldrick’s is a national non-profit based in California, dedicated to raising funds to find cures for children’s cancers, Stagg and Sandburg localized their events as much as possible.

Ellis pointed out that students at Hair Professionals Career College in Palos Hills were providing the haircuts in exchange for class credit. Plus, all the money raised at the three District 230 schools—Stagg, Sandburg in Orland Park and Andrew in Tinley Park benefits Julia’s Legacy of Hope, a St. Baldrick affiliate charity honoring the daughter of Andrew science teacher Jeff Janes, who died in 2013 at age 20 after battling Ewing’s sarcoma and then leukemia.

“It’s a super good cause. How could I not stay involved?” said Ellis, explaining why she continues to oversee the project each year. “Everybody has been affected by cancer. And it is good for these kids to get involved in this way.”

The students evidently agree, judging by the popularity of the event. Ellis said that while most of the students getting their heads shaved were boys, at least one girl donated her ponytail to make wigs for children going through chemotherapy.

“To get more girls involved, they can also donate in exchange for getting their hair braided this year,” said Ellis.

Among the first Stagg students to get his head shaved on March 17 was Aiden Mendoza, a junior from Orland Park, who raised $300 for St. Baldrick’s.

“I like the cause. It’s very important to give to something like this,” said Mendoza as he waited on stage for the clippers to come his way.

“I’m very lucky to be healthy. But cancer awareness is very important. It sucks that people have to go through that,” said Oswaldo Macias, a junior from Bridgeview, explaining his decision to get his first buzz cut for St. Baldrick’s.

“I’ve never gotten my hair cut this short before. It feels weird but it will grow back,” said Max Slenda, a junior from Palos Park. “It’s for a good cause and I want to support people dealing with cancer.”

A big cheer went up from the crows in the cafeteria when Anne Reedy, a Spanish teacher at Stagg, sat down to get hair cut short for St. Baldrick’s.

“This is my third year doing it,” said Reedy. “But seven years ago, I was bald from chemo,” she said, explaining that she is a breast cancer survivor.

“I can’t imagine what the children with cancer have to go through. I do this because I want to give back, and my Stagg family was so supportive when I was going through it. My goal was to raise $1,000 this year, and I made it and more.”

The event at Stagg and Sandburg on March 17 was not the only fundraiser held in District 230 either.

On March 15, the students and staff at Stagg held their annual basketball game to raise money for the charity, too. “The staff won. They always do,” said Assistant Principal Mary Pat Carr with a grin.

Sandburg students and staff also raised more than $10,000 for St. Baldrick’s this year, with money still being counted this week, following a fundraiser held at The Creamery. Jennifer Waterman, director of communications for District 230, said about 20 Sandburg students and staff shaved their heads this year. Science teacher Phil Januszewski was the top fundraiser, with more than $5,000 donated. The band department raised more than $1,000, with band directors Stewart Bailey and Brian Hillhouse getting their heads shaved as well. Secretary Joan Power also raised more than $500, having participated for the past 14 years.

Fundraising for St. Baldrick’s is not over in District 230 either, with the Senior Class Council at Andrew High School in Tinley Park hoping to raise $10,000 for the charity during Andrewfest. Their event will be held from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. May 11.

 

regional stagg baldricks4 2023

Hundreds of Stagg High School students participated in St. Baldrick’s Day festivities held at the school in Palos Hills on March 17. As some students got their hair cut on stage, others sang for the crowds gathered in the main cafeteria area.

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