State College

Centre Learning Community Charter School students go to great lengths for hair donation

Shaelah Pepperman couldn’t help but shed a tear when Beyond Looks Hair Salon stylist Sherry Baughman cut 12 inches of hair from her head Friday morning.

In less than two minutes, Shaelah’s hair went from the middle of her back, to above the shoulder.

But it should have been old hat for her.

After all, it was Shaelah’s third time going under the shears to donate hair to Locks of Love and other organizations that help make wigs and give hair to those who have lost theirs.

For an end of year class project, the Centre Learning Community Charter School eighth-grader focused on hair donation and the science behind hair growth and loss.

“It’s something really important to me,” Shaelah, 14, said.

Teacher and school co-founder Mark Toci said that each year the graduating class at CLC completes individual projects the students have been working on all year. Each student then presents their project to the student body.

“We want them to feel comfortable getting up and talking about something they worked so hard on,” Toci said.

Some students presented tech-based projects they created, while others were inspired to create a project based on personal hobbies.

Eighth-grader Jordan Rachael, 13, said she took about three weeks to make a five-foot horse jump with two parts to it. It was created because Jordan is involved in equestrian sports, and was designed like a pro jump, she said.

The event started with Shaelah, followed by 26 eighth-graders.

Shaelah was just 7 the first time she donated hair in honor of an aunt who had cancer. She did it again four years later.

When Shaelah was assigned the class project in the fall, she said it was the perfect time to focus on something so near to her heart.

“It had been a few years since I donated last — I was in sixth-grade then — and thought it would be a good opportunity to do it,” she said. “It’s a way to give back and help others feel normal again.”

She also recruited classmate Emma Gorenflo, 12, little sister Carlee Pepperman, 9, and family friend Angelina Grieb, 8, to participate in the hair cutting and donation process.

Jennifer Pepperman said the event was especially remarkable for her daughter Carlee who has an autoimmune disease that “makes it hard to grow hair,” she said.

Hair will also be donated to Wigs for Kids and Pantene Beautiful Lengths.