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Jeff Mann L-R: Emiliano Cortes, Zach Paull, Anthony Disanti, Tom Macdonald, Alex Minucci, Matthew Morris, Esmerelda Connors (leukemia survivor, now in 8th grade) and Nevin Spinosa Jeff Mann

MS 577 Helps Bring Cancer Cure a Hair Closer

October is breast cancer awareness month. And on Friday, October 26th, Middle School 577 English teacher Tom Macdonald and some of his students helped raise awareness and money to fight the disease.

For them, however, it wasn’t about pink ribbons or a “race for the cure.” They wanted to generate a real “buzz” at the district’s only A rated middle school. So, one by one, Macdonald, fellow teacher Anthony Disanti and students Alex Minucci, Emiliano Cortes and Matthew Morris took the stage in the school’s auditorium, and, in front of a cheering, chanting school body, took it all off. Their hair, that is.

Each sat in the barber’s chair as fellow students, teachers and Minucci’s mom, a professional barber, took turns shaving their locks. For their efforts, the kids were able to raise $1,300, 30% better than their goal of $1,000.

This was Macdonald’s fourth time shaving his head for this worthy cause. “Everyone knows someone affected by breast cancer and cancer in general,” he said. “More than just teaching English, I want to teach the kids to be better students and to better individuals.” Macdonald, a Greenpoint resident, stresses community giveback at the Title I school, in which 60% of students come from lower economic backgrounds.

That philosophy and genuine caring for the MS 577 kids is a theme at the nine year old school, which occupies a floor and a half in North 5th Street’s PS 17. “We have that really close knit environment where we totally take care of [the kids],” said Assistant Principal Karen Stevenson. “Events like these are a community effort. The kids get excited about seeing the effect of their efforts on a cause.”

Helping to make that point is math teacher / coach Nevin Spinosa, who is running the NYC Marathon, this Sunday, with her brother, to honor a relative who lost a battle with leukemia. Once again the kids came through, helping to raise the necessary funds for Spinosa to race with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

More photos are available here.

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