SUNSET -- A mullet, a mustache, a full head of hair, and a whole lot of dignity was a small price to pay for Christmas gifts for 50 children.
Students at Sunset Junior High School began participating in an annual sub-for-Santa fundraiser during the first week of December.
Cutting off a classmate's mullet, shaving the principal's head and shaving the assistant principal's mustache were all offered as incentives for students to donate more than they had last year.
When the school surpassed the goal and collected more than $6,600 in five days, students were rewarded with an assembly Wednesday morning.
"It was absolutely incredible," said Merci Rossmango, student government adviser. "This is something (the students) are going to remember far longer than the lessons we taught in the classroom."
The money will provide Christmas gifts for 50 children from 19 families, all of which live within the boundaries of the school.
The "Penny Wars" fundraiser pitted the seventh, eighth and ninth grades against each other in a competition to contribute the most pennies. Every penny a student donated counted toward the total for his or her grade level.
Any other denomination could be contributed to sabotage the total of another grade.
At the end of the day Dec. 15, the school had collected approximately $2,300 for the week. However, the students donated thousands of dollars the next day to reach a grand total of $6,645.38.
All told, the school collected 146,747 pennies.
Assistant Principal Jefferson Powars quipped that many banks in the area complained of a penny shortage during the week.
The awards assembly began with a game of dodgeball between seventh-graders -- who, by the way, won the competition -- and teachers and administrators.
Student Body Vice President Burk Vervloet had his shoulder-length mullet cut off and converted to a short Mohawk.
Principal Rich Swanson consented to having his head shaved and legs waxed, while also having eggs smashed on his head.
Powars was convinced to shave his 33-year-old mustache. His wife of 25 years was asked to remove the facial hair she has never seen him without.
And as a surprise bonus, Assistant Principal Robert Ito was duct-taped to the wall of the gymnasium throughout the assembly.
"In order for the school to be successful, their families have to be willing as well," said Rossmango. "There were a lot of people who sacrificed."
While Swanson jokingly thought it was "pretty rude" of the students to ask so much of him, he was also mindful of the purpose behind it.
"The kids did a great job. I'm really happy with what they did," Swanson said. "To me, it's just overwhelming that we've been able to help so many kids within our boundaries."