By Mara Certic
The last day of school before vacation tends to be an exciting one, as academics take a backseat to fun activities in most classrooms for the last few hours before that week of freedom. That was the case on Friday, February 13, at the Bridgehampton School where students prepared themselves for the chance of a lifetime—the opportunity to shave a teacher’s head.
In an effort to raise money for a family in the school district, Bridgehampton High School History teacher John Reilly decided that it was once again time to give schoolchildren the opportunity to pay money for the chance to shave his flowing locks in front of the entire school.
Mr. Reilly has previously allowed his students to give him a buzz, and this year, when he heard that the father of a first grader was battling cancer and unable to work, he didn’t hesitate to offer up his coiffed ‘do in order to raise some money.
“My hair is less important than their need,” Mr. Reilly said on Friday afternoon, shortly after he had been shorn.
The history teacher, whose mane looked like it belonged on the head of a Romantic poet, mysteriously went “missing” moments before he was scheduled to sit for his hair cut. Eric Bramoff, the school’s athletic director, asked the gathered students call out to Mr. Reilly to try to find him.
“I saw him in the hallway, maybe he’s nervous,” one second-grader shouted over the screams of “Mr. Reilly” punctuated by rhythmic claps that echoed throughout the gymnasium.
A mysterious character with long, flowing blonde locks ran in at one point and sat in the designated barber’s chair, much to the confusion of some of the children. It was not a golden-haired maiden, as some had believed, but in fact music teacher David Elliot, who had donned the shining wig.
After more chanting from the students, a reluctant Mr. Reilly emerged from another room.
“There’s just not enough money in the pot,” he said as he explained he had cold feet and was second-guessing his decision.
Just as disappointed groans started to become audible throughout the gym, Mr. Bramoff made an offer he couldn’t refuse.
Would he change his mind if the new athletic director bought another ticket for every student in the gym? Could that $175 sway his decision?
Apparently so, as Mr. Reilly sat down and lucky students were called up to begin buzzing his hair.
Charles Manning Jr., Janatan Braia, Franky Bonilla, Melissa Villa and Michael Smith were all called up to begin the trimming process.
The school’s three senior classmen were also called upon to participate in the haircut, which raised a total of $760.
A Ronkonkoma law firm, Campolo, Middleton & McCormick, which has an office in Bridgehampton, donated $100 when it heard of Mr. Reilly’s plans.
In a shock last-minute decision, just as students were starting to file out of the room, Mr. Bramoff announced he was going to let his girls JV basketball team shave his head too, in order to get the total up to an even $1000.
The team, which is new this season, gleefully took up the challenge and quickly gave their basketball coach a haircut that might just as well be known as the “Reilly” at Bridgehampton School.