Third annual "Beard-Off" in Hoosick Falls, NY raises $1,300 for scholarship


HOOSICK FALLS, NY >> It's not every day a student is allowed to take a beard trimmer to a teacher's face.

But at Hoosick Falls Central School District, it's not a distracted student's daydream — it's a tradition in it's third year.

Seven brave men took to the stage during a whole-school assembly on Tuesday afternoon for the third annual Beard Off. The event is in memory of Isabel McGuire, a math teacher at the school who died of cancer in 2014.

Art teacher Rob Viera, addressing an auditorium packed with students, faculty, staff and members of McGuire's family, recalled McGuire's "warm personality and sense of humor." The event held in her memory is meant to keep laughter in the hearts of school community members, raise awareness for cancer, "and of course, make fools of ourselves, just as she would have wanted."

Approximately $1,300 was raised through raffle ticket and T-shirt sales, all of which will go to the Isabel McGuire Scholarship Fund.

Nate Mead, grade 12, said it was "exhilarating" to be able shave the beard off technology and science teacher Anthony Malikowski. Mead knew he was chosen when Malikowski, upon taking a ticket at random from one of seven large cans, told audience members it was the last ticket put in.

"As soon as he said that, I was like, 'yes!' I've been wanting to shave his beard since it started," Mead said afterwards.

Liz Ryan, grade 12, was selected to restyle the face of a "mystery guest" revealed to students at the assembly: Bill Clairmont, a former math teacher who left in August for a vice-principal position in Mechanicville, N.Y. Claremont was one of the first three to participate when the event began and returned to the school on Tuesday.

Jillian Maser, grade 10, said she was shocked when she was chosen to shave math teacher Damien Bundrick's face — she only used one ticket on Bundrick, but used eight for Viera and 11 for the mystery guest. She had an idea of a beard style in case she was selected, but ended up tweaking it after Bundrick egged her on by saying "she didn't do enough to it."

Other faculty who participated were community information officer Brian Bushner, teacher aide Adam Cabana and science teacher James Lynch.

Participants must keep their new facial hair styles at least through the school day on Thursday, one requirement students indicated they were looking forward to.

The men have been shampooing, conditioning and massaging "beard oil" into their hair since November, Viera said. The only rule was no trimming — they had to "let it go" for the full five months.

Viera walked away with the right side of his face mostly bare, thanks to styling by 12th grader Bryce Stellar.

"I've never shaved someone else's beard before," Stellar said after posing for a "selfie" with Viera.

Contact Edward Damon at 413-770-6979


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