By Donna Thornton/News Editor
Bald is beautiful at Gaston School, because it is a sign of the love and support six Gaston faculty members and one special student wanted to show for a teacher battling breast cancer.
After second grade teacher Annette ‘Toni’ Sims was diagnosed in May with breast cancer, her colleagues at Gaston wanted to help. Ag Science teacher Paul Beasley came up with the idea of shaving heads to show support for Sims as she goes through chemotherapy, which almost always causes cancer patients to lose their hair.
“My son was in her class,” Beasley said. “She’s just a wonderful teacher and a great person, as is all of our faculty here.”
Among those great people, Beasley was able to draft Jesse Pruitt, Brian Usry, Heath McLeod, Mike Lamb and Jay Williams, to join him in the barber’s chairs, before a full assembly of Gaston students on Oct. 7, to have their heads shaved.
After hearing announcements about the planned assembly and head-shavings, Gaston Principal Miria King-Garner said, one student started asking teachers if he could participate as well. Sixth grader Hunter Howell said he asked if he could get his head shaved, too, not only to support Sims in her battle against cancer, but in honor of his mother.
Howell lost his mother to cancer in 2007, he said.
The Gaston students cheered all those getting their heads shaved, but seemed to cheer longest and loudest for Howell.
The women wielding the clippers were Vicky Martin, a special needs aide at Gaston, Miranda Culbert and Kodie Smith. Smith said taking part in the event was a lot of fun for them.
“It’s really special to get to do something like this for these kids, especially cutting that little boy’s hair,” Smith said.
Teacher Mike Lamb said he and Sims started teaching at the same time at Gaston. He and the other teachers said they were happy to go under the clippers to show their support for Sims.
“She’s a beautiful woman with a beautiful soul,” Dr. King-Garner said of Sims. Many of the schools older students were in Sims’ class, she said, and learning of her condition they’ve learned that cancer can touch anyone, at anytime. The students were taking up donations that will be given to a breast cancer charity of Sims choosing.
The outpouring of support has not surprised her.
“That’s just the soul of this school,” she said.
“You’re not going to find anyone who doesn’t love Ms. Sims,” Dr. King-Garner said.