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Helmut Schmidt, Published September 19 2013

Davies teacher offers up long locks as incentive for fundraiser

FARGO – It’s time to wish Michelle Bertsch locks of luck.

Students at Davies High School are trying to raise $5,000 in a challenge that could end with the math teacher having her tresses shaved off at halftime of tonight’s homecoming football game.

Students have been walking the halls with buckets, and have lit up the Twitterverse – look for #baldbertsch – in their effort to collect enough to get a bald-as-a-cue-ball Bertsch.

All the money will go to the Eagles Helping Eagles fund to help students and their families with unmet needs, Principal Troy Cody said.

“It’s to say we care about you. We care about your family. And we want you to succeed,” Cody said.

Bertsch, whose hair drapes down past her shoulders, said she hasn’t checked the students’ math on their fundraising.

“I don’t want to know. I’m a little nervous,” she said Thursday.

“Some want it to happen and some don’t want it to happen,” she said. “Some of them are torn. They don’t want to see my head get shaved, but they want to contribute.”

The bald-is-beautiful idea got its start when Bertsch received $1,000 in a Pay It Forward grant from a student’s parent who works at Bell State Bank and Trust.

She said she didn’t want to just donate the cash. She wanted to do something to increase it – her own version of paying it forward.

She started brainstorming with her advanced placement calculus students and blurted out the idea of shaving her head in a fundraiser.

“I threw it out there as a joke, thinking like, ‘That’s real funny, Bertsch.’ But they jumped all over it,” she said.

From that point, it was game on for hair off.

The important part is that the Eagles’ drive to help their classmates come from the students themselves, Bertsch and Cody say. It’s not something pushed or financed by parents or others.

“We want this to come from the hearts of the kids,” Bertsch said. “This is something totally focusing on them, which I think is a good thing.”

If there is enough cash raised to make Bertsch’s noggin more aerodynamic, the barbering will occur at halftime of the game against Grand Forks Red River High School. The game starts at 7 p.m.

“If my hair goes to a good cause, it’s just hair,” she said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583