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Sacred Heart students honor teacher battling cancer

Elizabeth Hagerty and Sarah Macro, seniors at Sacred Heart Academy, have been learning what it takes to organize an event. Their 11th-grade religion teacher, Sheila Lyons, was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. In her honor, the girls decided to hold a hair donation event as their senior project and to raise awareness about cancer.

Every senior at Sacred Heart is required to do a senior leadership project. Girls choose a cause they are passionate about that benefits the Sacred Heart, local or global community. Projects range from athletic clinics to food and clothing drives, and girls can either work alone or in small groups, applying for grant money to help fund their event.

Elizabeth got the idea to do her senior leadership project regarding Lyons’ diagnosis from the school librarian, Jane Coughlin.

“I volunteered and told Sarah,” said Elizabeth. “It turned out that Sarah had actually had a similar idea herself and we decided to work on it together.”

Soon enough, the Locks for Lyons campaign began. Elizabeth and Sarah began to market the event by making announcements at school and through social media – using #LocksforLyons on Twitter – and by hanging posters around the school.

“We played off popular celebrities who have short hair,” said Sarah. “Sacred Heart has a big obsession with Beyoncé, so we made sure to include her in our posters.”

The event, which will be held Monday during lunch periods, has taken a lot of coordination. Hairstylists from Lox Salon, along with students’ mothers, will be cutting 8 inches of hair off of girls who wish to donate it to the Pantene Beautiful Lengths program. Pantene Beautiful Lengths makes free wigs for women with cancer.

What about the girls who can’t cut their hair because it is too short? Elizabeth and Sarah decided to sell a pink silicone bracelet that says “SHApport” for $2. Bracelet sales will go to the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

“We were worried at first because we realized how difficult it is to convince girls to donate their hair,” said Sarah. “Once a few girls signed up, they started to convince their friends and it grew from there.”

Elizabeth and Sarah appreciate the positive reaction the Sacred Heart community has given their project. Their original goal of getting 20 girls to cut their hair has been passed and a male teacher has even volunteered to shave his head.

“The response has been extremely heartwarming,” said Elizabeth. “The school takes a ‘we’re all in this together’ approach and functions as an amazing support system.”

“The Sacred Heart community is my favorite part of Sacred Heart,” said Sarah. “It makes me proud to see the community come together to support not only our teacher, but those we know affected by cancer.”

Katie Galbo, a senior at Sacred Heart, notes the efforts Elizabeth and Sarah have put into this event.

“Lizzie and Sarah worked really hard to organize this,” said Katie. “There has been an incredible outpouring of love and support from the Sacred Heart community and it shows the impact Mrs. Lyons made on the student body.”

Victoria Parker, also a senior at Sacred Heart, has a special bond with Lyons.

“She is a strong, loving person who always finds the positives in everything,” said Victoria. “I look to her as a second mom because she is and always will be there for me if I ever need her.”

Elizabeth and Sarah agree that while this fundraiser is their senior project, it is first and foremost a way to show support for Lyons.

“I admire all of these girls who are brave enough to ignore their concerns about what they will look like and do something that will help another woman,” said Sarah. “In the end, our hair will grow back, but we will have given a gift to a woman who deserves it the most.”

Carolyn Hoffman is a senior at Nichols School.