By Ryan Cornell
WOODSTOCK -- Taking their lead from the hirsute months of Movember and Decembeard, students at Central High School are participating in what they have dubbed, "Man-U-Hairy January."
Starting today, classes at the school will raise money to support three organizations: Luke's Backpack, Family Promise and the Wounded Warrior Project. Each group of about 50 students has a week to raise $100. The groups that meet this goal will get to design the beards of 15 teachers participating.
If the school raises at least $2,000, students also will get to shave the beards of the two assistant principals.
The fundraiser was created and organized by 14 students in the leadership class. Dana Fisher, who teaches the class and is one of the bearded teachers participating, said that while some of the teachers have been growing out their facial hair since the start of winter break, many of them have sported beards over the entire school year.
He said the class decided through a poll on which three charities to support. Other classes at the school voted on Thursday to choose which of the three charities they would benefit.
Ben Kline, a senior, said that teachers can grow out their beards until Jan. 22, when they will be shaved by local hair stylist Lori Coffey. Because Coffey is volunteering as the mother of one of the students involved in the project, 100 percent of the money raised will go toward the three groups.
Senior Duke Gosney said that the teachers have to wear their newly styled beards for the last three days of the semester. He said the class is creating a list of beard design ideas.
"Really, anything like mutton chops, a Fu Manchu," he said. "I think we decided that we can't dye the beards though, so it's all shaping."
Junior Bobby Loveland said the designs will be humorous and school-appropriate.
"We're not trying to make them look fresh," he said. "They probably won't want to be seen in public during this."
The students said they learned communication skills as well as how to manage a project from start to finish.
"I mean, whenever you hear about a fundraiser, it's not as easy as it sounds," Gosney said. "There's a lot of work that goes into it."
Fisher said the fundraiser is a graded project that involves all students in the class, from writing the press release, researching beard designs and creating the collection jars and presentation scripts.
He said the first class to raise $100 will get donuts, while the class that raises the most money will get Klondike Bars.
He added that he's been impressed by the students' dedication.
"We weren't supposed to actually raise any money until Friday when we had everything set up," said Fisher. "I think there was $25 or $35 turned in yesterday. The kids are just ready to go and it's pretty cool to see them get into it."
He said businesses, groups and area residents have been asked to donate money. Readers interested in contributing to the "Man-U-Hairy January" campaign can contact Fisher at 540-459-2161.
Contact staff writer Ryan Cornell at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or firstname.lastname@example.org