Principal’s close shave inspires school

Inspired by their principal and a Year 10 student, Muirfield High School raised more than $22,500 for the Leukemia Foundation. Pascal Adolphe reports.

Image: Principal Jennifer Reeves sports a new look: “It’s only hair and I’m not sick.”

A pledge by Muirfield High School principal Jennifer Reeves to shave her long golden locks has reaped rich dividends for the Leukaemia Foundation’s annual fundraiser.

The school entered a team into the foundation’s World’s Greatest Shave and Ms Reeves promised she would shave her head if the school raised $10,000.

“It was a purposeful decision,” she said. “I was very happy to act as a ‘spur’ for donations, and it worked.”

The school quickly passed the $10,000 target and Ms Reeves fulfilled her promise. Her blonde hair was shorn off earlier this month.

“I am a woman of my word. It’s hair; it’s only hair and I’m not sick,” she said. “Can I do something to inspire others to donate?”

Her decision has paid off with the donation tally now at $22,592 and counting.

Ms Reeves also had a personal motivation to participate. One of her students, Brian Louw, was diagnosed with an aggressive leukaemia when he was in Year 8.

Two years on, Brian’s words sum up the importance of the Leukaemia Foundation’s work.

“I’m a leukaemia survivor. On the 15th of January 2021, I was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML),” Brian said.

“AML is a harsh form of leukaemia that requires aggressive, constant treatment. It made me miss all my Year 8 schooling. It required six difficult months of intensive chemotherapy that made me the sickest I’ve ever been.

“But even after that finished, my journey was barely half finished. I didn’t have anything close to an immune system for the next five months, and I required almost daily blood transfusions to keep me alive.

“I was constantly in and out of the Westmead Children’s Hospital Oncology Treatment Clinic for the rest of the year. It was by far the most challenging time of my life.”

Muirfield High School has been participating in the World’s Greatest Shave for the past few years, but this is the most money it has raised.

“Everybody donated, the students, staff, cleaners, everybody. One student gave us his last $150 from his bank account,” Ms Reeves said.

While Brian has survived AML, he noted that “not every kid does”.

“I feel it to be my responsibility to raise awareness of AML and other types of leukaemia, so that other innocent children don’t have years of their childhood taken away, or worse,” he said.

“It is my hope that money raised goes towards AML research and to help any families affected by AML.”

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