Paula Johns counted down to her big reveal.
“3 – 2 – 1,” she shouted before spinning around on the Pinellas Park Middle School stage to show of her newly etched school Thunderbird logo now nested in the back of her head.
The crowd of students erupted with cheers.
“Yeah, that makes me happy,” said Elysia Smith with a smile.
The new haircut came in support of Smith. Six teachers and five students braved the scissors and clippers Monday morning to donate hair to the Share the Hair fund, all in Smith’s honor.
“It's okay to not take yourself too seriously,” said Spanish teacher Andrew Belzer.
Smith, 14, started losing her hair when she was just 2-years old. Alopecia was the culprit.
“A lot of people told me that I was different,” she said.
Her peers showed up to prove she isn’t.
“I did this for the kids who have hair loss,” said Seamuth Sok, the only male student to cut off his hair. “I know the problems that they’ve been through. I wanted to give it to them because I already had enough.”
“I mean, it’s hair. It will grow back,” said Johns, whose mom lost her hair while fighting cancer. Johns told her students if she got a handful of kids to cut their hair she’d put the logo on her head.
“They came through. I’m so proud of them.”
For Smith, the demonstration was touching. She recalled times when fellow students would snatch scarves off her head. She was called different.
Now, she feels love after seeing so much support for her condition.
“I was planning on cutting my hair,” said one student. “I was like, this is the perfect opportunity to do something good and get rid of it.”
The hair will be sent off to make wigs for other people who have dealt with hair loss from disease and cancer.
“Yeah, it kind of makes me happy,” said Smith. “It makes me want to cry but I’m not going to cry.”