Niles teachers win food drive competition, shave students’ heads

Published 8:53 am Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Leader photos/CRAIG HAUPERT Austin King smiles as teacher Tara Carlsen shaves his head Monday.

Leader photos/CRAIG HAUPERT
Austin King smiles as teacher Tara Carlsen shaves his head Monday.

The shoulder length blond hair 15-year-old Austin King had been growing for more than a year was gone in a matter of minutes.

Cedar Lane teacher Tara Carlsen did several passes across King’s head with an electric razor as students in the packed Niles classroom cheered her on.

When it was all finished, King ran to the nearest mirror to take a look.

“I look different… different good I think,” said King, of Edwardsburg. “I didn’t want to do it, but it was time for it.”

King was one of five students at Cedar Lane Alternative School who had their heads shaved Monday as part of a good-natured wager with their teachers.

Throughout February, students and staff were pitted against one another in a contest to see who could bring in the most non-perishable food items for donation to local pantries.

If the staff won, King had to shave his head. If the students won, the staff had to throw the students a pizza party.

The staff brought in 180 items to the students’ 145.

“I’m not really sure why (I got volunteered),” King said. “It’s colder now, but I’ve got a hat.”

Not wanting to let King be the only one to pay the price, students Tyler McNeil, William Baker, Anthony Boyce and Paul Norman all volunteered to have their heads shaved, too.

Teacher Dan Palmer said putting stakes on the competition paid off. Cedar Lane collected the second most items out of all the schools during the Niles Community Schools’ district-wide food drive, despite having a small enrollment.

“It was one of the biggest pulls that we’ve had in the last couple years,” Palmer said.

King’s mother actually helped swing the contest in the teachers’ favor as she brought in about 45 cans for the teachers.

“She really wanted him to have a haircut,” Palmer said.

Was King happy about that?

“Nope,” he said.