HOOSICK FALLS — Hoosick Falls Central School's "Beard-Off" fund raiser will return for the third year, with twice as many participants, and hopefully even more money raised for student scholarships.
In March of 2014, HFCS math teacher Isabel McGuire passed away at the age of 48. She had taught at HFCS since 1995, and was the head of the math department, the National Honors Society advisor, and had been a coach on the girl's basketball team. At her funeral, the Isabel McGuire Scholarship fund for HFCS seniors was announced. Just a few weeks later, three teachers, math teachers Bill Clairmont, and Damien Bundrick, and art teacher Robert Viera, who had been involved in a beard growing contest when McGuire passed, decided to sell 1$ raffle tickets to students, with the three winners getting the opportunity to shave off their teachers' beards. The raffle raised over $400, all of which was donated to McGuire's scholarship fund.
The next year, the three teachers volunteered to run the fundraiser again, this time raising over $1,000 in raffle tickets and T-shirts. The teachers began growing their beards in October, and pledged to leave the students' creations on their faces for the entire school day following the shaving ceremony. Clairmont left sporting a beard in the shape of a question mark, while Bundrick was left with something out of the Wild West and Viera ended up with exactly half his face shaved. "They never take our advice," laughed Clairmont afterward, "they always do something crazy."
According to a press release from the school, there will be six participants this year: Bundrick, Viera, science teacher James Lynch, technology and science teacher Tony Malikowski, teacher aide Adam Cabana, and community information officer Brian Bushner. They have agreed on themes for each month of beard-growing, having already completed "No-Shave November," the educators and the students have "DecemBeard," "Man-uary," "Februhairy," and "March Man-ness" still to look forward to. The team hopes to surpass last year's fundraising number.
""We've done it each year because it does so well," said Viera, who with Clairmont came up with the idea for the initial event, "We try to raise more awareness and money each year. It's a big community thing at this point - everyone loved Isabel."
"This teaches our kids how to give back," he added, "You really see how the district comes together, everyone contributes money and support. This isn't a wealthy community but they always come through and give generously." The raffle and shaving ceremony will take place in March.