Grade 10 student Aria Gates-Smith, Grade 12 student John Leslie and Grade 9 student Annika Nargang-White will each shave their heads on Oct. 4. The annual Tour de Rock head shave is a part of the culture at Reynolds and other school in Saanich. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)

Schools gear up for annual Tour de Rock head shaves

The annual Reynolds secondary Tour de Rock is an emotional event for reasons that are obvious, and for reasons that aren’t.

Reynolds secondary held its annual Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock campaign kickoff on Friday with a speech from Reynolds grad Charlie Muth, a childhood cancer survior. The school’s annual Tour de Rock head shave is slated for Oct. 4, when dozens of students will walk up to the school’s conveyor belt of barbers (there’s only one type of hairdo in this salon).

Grade 10 student Aria Gates-Smith participated in the head shave last year and is excited to do it again, with a goal of topping the $200 she raised last year. While she was surprised at her emotions about it last year, getting her head shaved isn’t what tugs at Gates-Smith’s emotions, it’s the stories of pediatric cancer that put her over the edge.

“I cried during the assembly but not during the head shave,” Gates-Smith said. “It is weird doing the head shave, I was excited but nervous at the same time, this year I’m really excited to do it again.”

One of the unique phenomenons of the Reynolds head shave is how many Grade 9 girls take part. Among them this year is Annika Nargang-White, who after Oct. 4, plans to grow her hair out until Grade 12 and then shave it off to donate it for a wig.

“We have family friends who lost their baby, Molly Campbell [in 2013],” Nargang-White said. “I just want to show my spirit for Reynolds and that I want to help out with the cause. It’s my first time shaving my head. I will be crying but it’s definitely for the cause and not because I’m going to miss my hair.”

Renowned as a leader when it comes to Tour de Rock fundraising efforts, Reynolds raised $51,395 last year and has pulled in more than $750,000 since it started. While for many years Reynolds led all local schools in Tour de Rock fundraising efforts, it was Oak Bay High that hit $90,000 last year. Other schools such as Claremont, Glanford, Lansdowne, Pacific Christian and more have all made it part of their tradition.

The tradition is a growing part of Spectrum Community School’s annual fall routine where newly retired principal Rob House is a guest rider on the 2018 Tour de Rock team. In 2016 House did his Tour de Rock, raising $7,700 while riding the 525-kilometre ride from Port Hardy to Victoria in 4.5 days.

Grade 12 Reynolds student John Leslie will say goodbye to his jet-black rock star hair, but Leslie will still rock (he’s in the band). Leslie is hoping to launch a serious campaign

“People who shave their heads here have good reasoning behind, whether it’s because of family or out of school spirit,” Leslie said. “When people see you in the hallway with a shaved head they recognize what you’ve done, it’s a big thing at Reynolds.

“I’d rather do this, I say I’m doing this, to spread awareness that everyone should step up and do something for the good of everyone.”

The Tour de Rock, began Saturday in Port Alice and stops at Reynolds on the final day, Oct. 5.

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