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A haircut for a good cause at Stevens Forest

Stevens Forest Elementary School Principal Ron Morris is a self-described die-hard Dallas Cowboys fan. Even living in the heart of Baltimore Ravens and Washington Redskins territory, he mentions it, a lot — to parents, students, and colleagues.

So it only makes sense that those Ravens and Redskins fans might want to "get back" at him, he said. Last week, they did.

On Wednesday, Feb. 12, Morris sat in a chair in the main hallway of the Columbia school, his personal barber at the ready and cameras on him. As Dytanna Orr got out his clippers, students around the school watched on the school's closed-circuit TV system as Morris had "Go 'Skins!" shaved onto the back of his head.

"He's a good sport," said PTA treasurer and kindergarten para-educator Merry Martin. "The students couldn't take their eyes off of what was happening. They were over the moon."

Morris volunteered for the haircut when Martin suggested having a "Penny Wars" fundraiser. Three empty water-cooler jugs were set up at the school, and each jug correlated to a different goal. If, at the end of several weeks in January, the first jug had the most money in it, the physical education teachers would dress as chickens and perform the chicken dance for the students. If the second jug won out, Assistant Principal Trish Lannon would wear the school mascot costume — a bobcat — and dance to Katy Perry's "Roar." If the third jug had the most money in it, Morris would get a Redskins-themed haircut.

"When we had a kid put a twenty-dollar bill in my jar, I knew I was in trouble," Morris said.

Morris' jug was the winner by just 74 cents; the jug calling for the chicken dance had the most coins in it, Martin said, but Morris' jug "had a lot of green."

All told, the Penny Wars fundraiser netted $540 for the school, money that will go to a specific line item, Morris said: "student needs."

"We have the highest percentage of students in the county who qualify for free and reduced meals," he said. "There's a need at our school. We considered having a fundraiser for different charities, but we wanted to take care of our own first."

The money will go toward things like school supplies or field trips, Martin said, and the fundraiser was "a real way to channel the money to where it needs to go."

Martin said the response to the fundraiser was overwhelming; she could barely get the coins from her car to the bank, and when she did, the teller operating the coin-counting machine had to change out the receptacle bag three times.

The fundraiser "electrified" the school, Morris said.

"It completely charged up the atmosphere for those weeks," he said. "Regardless of what won out, the excitement was pretty cool. The kids understood it was for a good cause, and they had fun with it. They had fun giving me a hard time."

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