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Having a good hair day

Elementary school students let go of their locks for charity.

May 17, 2010|By Max Zimbert

In five seconds, kindergartner Whitney Noh’s hair went from being below her waist to hanging around her shoulders. Fremont Elementary School students, parents and teachers applauded and cheered.

“This is her first, real big haircut,” her mother So Noh said. “She knows it’s for a good cause.”

By Monday evening, more than 110 inches of hair was cut for charity. For the last five years, Fremont parents Mark Mayner and Claudia Velasco have brought their wares from their Pasadena salon to raise money for Locks of Love, a nonprofit organization that uses the hair to make wigs for children with serious illnesses.

“It’s just being part of something that’s bigger than what we do every day at the salon,” Mayner said. “We did some research on the organization and fell in love with it.”


Mayner’s family graduates to Rosemont Middle School next year, and he said he would like to bring Locks of Love to the middle school.

Locks for Love has been a staple at Fremont the last five years, so much so that Amy LeVoir’s last haircut was at Fremont in third grade.

“I’ve gotten trims since,” the sixth-grader said after donating 10 inches. “It feels great. I‘m going to wear it different styles all week.”

Students had been bracing themselves for months, said sixth-grade teacher Debbie Miller.

“As the day’s gotten closer, they’ve been more anxious and I’d ask them if they were going to change their mind,” she said. “I appreciate their fortitude, because I don’t know if I could commit to it.

“They are all good kids, and they know the big picture.”

Many of the students remember Laura Thornberry, a sixth-grade teacher who died of breast cancer in 2008.

“It’s good for our kids to do this,” said Janie Roach, a second-grade teacher. “It makes cancer real for them.”

That firsthand experience is the best way for children, especially elementary-school-aged students, to understand more adult subjects, said Young LeVoir, Amy’s mother.

“There’s an awareness, and it’s a teachable moment too,” she said. “You can talk about cancer or a lot of things, but if they don’t experience it, they can’t connect it.”

The haircutting was all festive Monday, with treats and ensuing applause for all 11 participants. Mayner said he always likes seeing the before-and-after pictures.

“The initial cut, it’s all smiles,” he said.

Denise Avelar is the mother of a first-grader and donated more than 10 inches of hair.

“I’ve explained the situation to her; she thinks it’s great,” Avelar said. “She wants long hair like Mommy, and I’ve told her, don’t worry, it’ll grow back.”

Get in touch MAX ZIMBERT covers education. He may be reached at (818) 637-3215 or by e-mail at

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