GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP — On Friday morning 550 students crowded into the Roland Rogers Elementary School cafeteria and chanted “Shave your head” as teachers had their hair cut off for a St. Baldrick’s Foundation fundraiser.

Since Feb. 19, the students and faculty raised more than $6,000 to donate to the foundation, a fundraising drive that culminated Friday morning on St. Baldrick’s Day.

According to their website, the St. Baldrick's Foundation is a childhood cancer charity funding the most promising research to help find cures for kids with cancer.

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Fifth-grade teacher Brian Dunn said he started participating in the St. Baldrick’s head-shaving fundraiser nine years ago through the Absecon Volunteer Fire Department in memory of Shelby Richter, a 13-year-old Absecon girl who died in 2005 of undifferentiated sarcoma.

This year marks the fourth year that Roland Rogers school staff members shaved their heads to raise money and awareness for childhood cancer research through the St. Baldrick’s Foundation.

About $500 was raised the first year, but that total has climbed to thousands of dollars, Dunn said.

“Over the years we’ve just been able to get more people to participate every year. This is all about giving the kids an introduction to charity and helping someone,” Dunn said.

Donations were collected at the school for the last four weeks and included faculty contributions and even loose change from students, Dunn said. The grand total announced during the assembly Friday was $6,020.

For every $5 a student donated during the drive, a “Lucky Charm” was placed in the lobby with their name on it. A random drawing was held Friday during the event and prizes were awarded to winning students’ homerooms.

The top-five student donors, who raised more than $500, stood on the stage and unveiled the total donations. The students included fifth-graders Sam DiLorenzo, Corissa Robbins, Grace Vu, Brooke Fiedler and fourth-grader Noah Pomrink.

“You guys are building blocks to move on as you get older and help people globally,” Assistant Principal Michael Silvestri said.

The students cheered as Dunn, along with teachers Sean McCarthy, Joe Conte, Joe Palumbo, Dave Martin, Don Adams and John McHale took their places on the stage in seats in front of hair stylists from Tangles salon in the township.

“Mr. McCarthy, that is a head only a mother could love,” Silvestri said as a stylist pulled a razor over McCarthy’s head.

Then it was time to decide if Silvestri’s head would be shaved. Originally the deal was that he would shave his head if $8,000 was raised in total. But that changed and he agreed to the shaving if the school succeeded in raising $2,000 in the past week, which it did.

Once the group of teachers had their heads shaved, Silvestri climbed on the stage and took a seat for his own haircut. As his head was shaved the students began chanting, “Shave you beard.”

“Maybe next year that can be our goal if we can reach $8,000. The beard will go too,” he said.

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Follow Donna Weaver on Twitter @DonnaKWeaver

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