Story updated with words from Spectrum Community School principal Rob House.
Call it the Reynolds effect.
High schools (and middle schools) have become a significant contributor to Cops for Cancer’s annual Tour de Rock campaign to raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society.
The students and teachers of Reynolds secondary raised $69,500 this year and are approaching a total of $725,000 in the past 12 years.
Of course, Reynolds isn’t the only school that’s taken part. Oak Bay High raised $64,000 this year, Spectrum Community School raised $22,000 and Claremont secondary raised $4,500, among others. Several middle schools are active too, sending students to high schools with previous experience and awareness of the event.
Altogether, the school portion is a sizeable chunk of the Tour de Rock’s 2016 total of $1,278,065 and counting. The tour’s 19-year total is now more than $22 million.
For Claremont, this year saw the most heads shaved and legs waxed to date, with about two dozen, said teacher Colin Plant.
Seeing those numbers grow around the community is heartwarming for 2014 Tour de Rock alum Dean Norris-Jones. It was Norris-Jones, a Reynolds teacher, who sparked the school’s annual participation in Tour de Rock in 2005.
“We like the idea that it raises a lot of money for a good cause, but we’re also most proud of the notion it’s kids acting on their social responsibility, kids learning the meaning of being a contributing member of the community,” Norris-Jones said.
This year a total of between 75 and 80 students and teachers had their heads shaved (or legs/chest waxed) at Reynolds.
Sixteen Grade 9 girls led the way. There are also a group of five teachers who’ve done the head shave every year.
“Over the course of the campaign (since 2005) we’ve had more than 1,000 heads shaved, and it’s no small feat,” Norris-Jones said.
Don’t discount what a big deal it can be for Grade 9 girls to shave their heads, he added.
Many girls, if their hair is long enough and hasn’t been dyed, save the locks and donate them to Locks for Love.
At Reynolds, the campaign is only two weeks. Keeping it short, but serious, is key, Norris-Jones said.
“We go hard for two weeks and we make no apologies, there’s 50 weeks in the year we don’t campaign. We don’t do big corporate donations, we do it one car wash, or one cupcake at a time.”
For Rob House, principal at Spectrum Community School, it was a win to have the Tour de Rock stop at their school this year.
"We know that Reynolds is a machine, and we’re hoping to make [Tour de Rock] a part of our culture [too]," House said.
Spectrum presented a cheque for $21,450 to the team but has since had $1,500 more donations trickle in. at that amount
In August, the House did a "tour" of his own, cycling 500 kilometres from Port Hardy to Saanich to raise money for Cops for Cancer.
That, and the fact 2016 Tour de Rock guest rider Mena Westhaver has a son at Spectrum (Marty, in Grade 12) helped bring the Tour for a stop at the school.
A group of band students made a drum line and marched the Tour de Rock team into the gym. Westhaver then introduced the bulk of the riders and it was a special moment for her, House said.
"It’s a really neat event, it galvanized the school, it was an electric moment."
If there’s a competition between schools, Norris-Jones says he won’t acknowledge it openly, but doesn’t dispute it either.
“If it leads to more being raised, that’s only a good thing. But we don’t talk about it.”