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'An overwhelming response:' East students, staff shave heads after raising more than $1,000 for teacher fighting cancer
Jeff Cheney
East Forsyth High School Principal Jeff Cheney volunteers to have his head shaved alongside five students and five teachers. - photo by Sabrina Kerns

East Forsyth High School students and teachers volunteered Friday, Dec. 8, to have their heads completely shaved as a way to raise money and show support to English Language Arts Department Chair Ashley Shorter.

The event was organized by two students, Nic Ferrugia and Maddie Rose, who found out just a couple of months ago that Shorter’s stage IV cancer came back out of remission.

Ferrugia said he had Shorter as a teacher when he was a freshman at a different school, and he simply wanted to show her some support through a difficult time. Originally, though, he planned to shave his head along with a small group of friends.

Rose saw the opportunity to garner more support.

“I thought, ‘Hold on. People would pay to see this. We can help someone with this,’” Rose said.

The students sought help to organize a fundraiser with Vanessa Garcia, the school’s spirit head coordinator.

With each tier of the fundraising goal met, they decided a student or faculty member would shave their head at the school’s next pep rally.

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East Forsyth High School
English Language Arts Department Chair Ashley Shorter begins shaving off student Nic Ferrugia’s hair at a pep rally at East Forsyth High School. - photo by Sabrina Kerns

With more than $1,000 in student, parent and community donations and a $1,000 match from an anonymous donor, the students surpassed the goal after less than two months. The day of the pep rally, Corner Farms announced they would match the donations up to $1,000.

That morning, the school’s gym was filled with excitement as students were called up to the chairs situated in the middle of the court. Ferrugia went first, Shorter shaving off his thick hair with a huge smile on her face.

Five students and five teachers had their heads shaved before Principal Jeff Cheney stepped up to the plate at the end of the pep rally, joining in.

“It turned into an overwhelming response,” Garcia said.

East Forsyth High School
Staff members greet students as they head to the middle of the East Forsyth High School gym to have their heads shaved. - photo by Sabrina Kerns
East Forsyth High School
Staff and students alike gathered around the chairs in the middle of the gym at East Forsyth High School as teachers first began shaving the heads of students who volunteered their support. - photo by Sabrina Kerns
East Forsyth High School