October 31, 2012 - Pine Tree Elementary students filed into the school gymnasium Oct. 25 and took their places on the floor. Six students stood facing the student body, holding large pieces of black poster board close to their bodies as four students were called to the low stage.
Kelly Snyder, right, helps Pine Tree students shave Dan Martinís head. Photo by L. Farrell (click for larger version)
Principal Diane Dunaskiss took the microphone and began to address the curious assembly. She asked them if they knew why the four students were on the stage or why they were here in the gym. The students remained silent, unaware of the events about to unfold.
Gently hinting, Dunaskiss reminded them of a bargain they had struck with the teaching faculty. With a wink and a nod, she asked them "What would the top four Fun Run fundraisers do for Mr. Martin?"
With that, the room erupted into cheers and laughter as the students realized what was about to transpire. "Shave his head" they shouted with one voice.
Third grade teacher Dan Martin was in for the most public hair cut of his life, and the children were thrilled to be reminded of the friendly bet they had just won.
Pine Tree Elementary has held a Fun Run for the last seven years. Money raised goes to the Pine Tree PTO, and is used to fund field trips, school assemblies, technology upgrades, classroom materials and other needs teachers identify.
"It's very exciting," Principal Dunaskiss said about the Fun Run. "I just can't say enough about it. What a fun way for kids to raise money for their school. They get the benefit from it—and have fun along the way."
The Fun Run was chosen because of the direct benefits to the students. "First of all," she said, "we look for a healthy event, and we don't want them to sell things."
Students are not required to go door-to-door, nor is money siphoned off to reimburse product manufacturers. Children are given school time to run in the event, thus not further burdening the schedules of participating families.
Parents and families appreciate the initiative and how it fits the needs of their children, and have used their pocketbooks to express as much. "We're just always amazed by the generosity of our families," Dunaskiss said.
Pine Tree parent Kelly Snyder, a former Pine Tree student whose own children now attend the elementary, heads up the Fun Run event.
Snyder echoed Dunaskiss's opinion of the families who support the school. "I have a huge support group of parents that help me set up the (fun run) course at six o'clock in the morning When it comes down to it, everyone just chips in."
To motivate the youngsters, Snyder and the Fun Run organizers provide incentives. This year, the top three fundraising classes are awarded a pizza party. David Goetz's fifth grade class came in first with $1,996; second place was Michelle Russell's second grade class with $1,680, and Gina Guccini's second grade class won the third place spot after raising $1,526.
Zoe Dendel, Anna Snyder, Gavin Frezza, and Logan Peterson were the lucky students who brought in more than $200 and won the right to shave the head of third-grade teacher, Dan Martin, the guest of honor at Thursday's festivities.
Seeing his doom was nigh, Martin approached the stage with reluctance. He took his seat and was quickly surrounded by four clipper-wielding elementary students. Jessica Aurora of Studio Glitz brought the hair care equipment, and stood by in case of any unfortunate bloodshed. The crowd of kids roared as the clippers came to life.
Soon, hair was flying and Martin's locks were tumbling to the floor. The novice barbers made short work of Martin's curls, leaving only a narrow strip across the top of his scalp. The throng yelled for more, however, not content with the Mohawk that remained. They wanted results, so the young Pine Tree trimmers returned to their seated victim and finished the dastardly 'do.
But that wasn't the end of the festivities. Principal Dunaskiss spotted P.E. teacher Mr. Mark Russell tip-toeing out of the hall, and beckoned him back. He, too, had made a bet with the student body. If the students were to meet their $15,000 fundraising goal, he had promised he would dress as an old lady for an entire school day.
Russell crept back into the room. Like the now-bald Martin, he was reluctant to face his fate. He climbed onto the stage to await the results hidden by the six students who still stood facing their classmates. Slowly, students turned over the black poster boards they were holding to reveal the grand total raised in the 2012 Fun Run — $17,125.
Russell sheepishly faced the students, asking them if they were absolutely sure they wanted him to wear the dress, wig, make-up, necklaces and the whole-nine yards required to transform into an old lady for a day. Surely, they'd rather have some other prize? But the children responded as one again, and Russell was consigned to his fate.
The bunches of boys and gangs of girls danced with joy. Their hard work had paid off, and as a team they had met their goals. Not only that, their agreement was to be honored, and silliness was to reign for a bit.
Content, the group began to file out of the gym, leaving only an astonished Martin and Russell, two gentlemen who will likely think twice before betting against the troopers at Pine Tree Elementary next time.