Teacher takes pledge to heart, shaves head

Published: Monday, March 9, 2009
By Rachael Scarborough King, Register Staff

NORTH BRANFORD — David Carpenter, physical education teacher at Totoket Valley Elementary School, has been feeling a little colder lately after he shaved his head in front of the entire school last week.

Carpenter told his students he would shave his head if they raised more than $10,000 in the school’s first Jump Rope for Heart event, which took place Feb. 2-13 and benefited the American Heart Association. The students surpassed his expectations — raising a total of $11,820 — and Carpenter held up his side of the bargain.

“We thought ($10,000) was unreachable, especially now in these times, so we were quite impressed,” he said. “The kids really got into it once they knew I was going to be shaving my head.”

Carpenter and fellow physical education teacher Nancy Gray coordinated the fundraiser, in which students participated in jump rope and other cardiovascular activities during physical education class. Students asked friends and family to sponsor them.

Principal Kris Lindsay said many students were excited about the project. The ability to sign up sponsors through the Web site made fundraising easier, she added.

“They’d say, ‘This is so much fun, we want to do this every day,’” Lindsay said. “They loved the sense of competing to see how well they could work together toward a common goal.”

Out of 500 students, Carpenter said, 224 students raised money. The top three fundraisers, who earned medals from the American Heart Association, raised from $375 to $445 each. The association also enters any student nationwide who raised $150 or more in a drawing to win a trip to Disney World.

The heart association returned $500 to the school toward the purchase of more physical education equipment. Lindsay said the school is “definitely” continuing the event next year.

“Our goal is to do it every year and we want to have banners from the American Heart Association that cover our gym,” she said.

The physical activities also raised students’ awareness about heart-healthy exercise, Lindsay said. The money they raised will go toward the American Heart Association’s CPR training program.

“Literally, the money is used to save lives because it’s used to train people (to respond to those) who have had heart attacks or other events,” she said.

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