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Eastwood Elementary students erupt as fourth-grade teacher James Moe gets his head shaved during an assembly last Wednesday. Tyler Shoberg / West Fargo Pioneer
Eastwood Elementary students erupt as fourth-grade teacher James Moe gets his head shaved during an assembly last Wednesday. Tyler Shoberg / West Fargo Pioneer

Mr. Moe shaves the day

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education Fargo, 58102

Fargo North Dakota 101 5th Street North 58102

Based on the rising cheers emanating from Eastwood Elementary school last Wednesday, it would be easy to assume some celebrity such as Justin Bieber or Taylor Swift was putting on a surprise show.

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But the crowd wasn't screaming for autographs from a pop icon. Instead, the students had someone much more familiar drawing their unfaltering attention.

The dead giveaway came from the loud, rhythmic chanting of, "Mis-ter Moe! Mis-ter Moe! Mis-ter Moe!"

James Moe, a fourth-grade teacher, was the star of the show. But, he wasn't giving out free candy. And, he was not putting on a magic trick. He was not even offering promises of extended recesses for the remainder of the year.

Moe was about to get his head shaved.

"I always thought he was funny looking before, but just you wait," Assistant Principal Jason Cresap said jokingly, drawing a laugh from the crowd.

The reason behind Moe's haircut was not just that he desperately needed one - although school counselor Joan Houdek said Moe had "been growing his hair out for two months for us." No, Moe's new do came to because of a much more logical reason.

He lost a bet.

Moe agreed to shave his head in front of the whole school if his class of fourth graders raised the most amount of money during Eastwood's drive for United Way.

And in the end, Moe's class did just that - with a little help.

"It really wasn't fair, because there were kids I didn't even know dropping five-dollar bills in our bucket," he said. "The kids apparently really wanted to see my head shaved."

Moe's class wound up raising $146. Eastwood also held a Penny Drive, which garnered $925. All told, the Eagles were able to give $2,551.29 to United Way.

But before Moe lost is red-tinged locks, the audience was entertained by Caleb Klabunde, an Eastwood student with a talent for riding the unicycle. Assistant Principal Cresap said Klabunde is the youngest member of his family of unicycle aficionados to master the one-wheeled mode of transportation.

West Fargo High School students also were on hand to spread the word and rile up the elementary students about the ongoing Fill the Dome campaign, which is in its fifth year. Students still are gathering goods for the food drive that culminates Nov. 11-12 at the FargoDome.

The goal this year is to raise enough money and food to supply 500,000 meals for those in need.

And just before the grand finale, two bicycles were auctioned off for students who had perfect attendance -- no absences, no tardies, no early departures - through the first trimester. Quintesha Hankel won the girl's bike, and Hayden Dondoneau was drawn for the boy's.

The bikes were provided by the Shawn Rheam of Horace Mann Insurance.  He will provide two bikes per trimester for students that have perfect attendance.

Finally, Moe came forth to take his place in the center of the gym. The audience erupted in cheers, as students Jack Dent, Cami Birrenkott, Addison Bents, Maddie Schoenberg, Ben Sikorski and Tommy Lindquist were chosen to help with the haircut.

Then, with the help of Steam's "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye" blaring over the loudspeakers and teacher David Schneck giving thoughtful barbering tips, each student took turns ridding Moe of his mop of hair.

Scissors were brought out briefly when some technical difficulties caused the razor to malfunction, but soon enough large chunks of main were clumping on Moe's shoulders, lap and the ground around his feet.

"Is there a draft in here, or is it just me?" Moe asked, a grin creasing his face.

Moe said he was asked by a fellow teacher earlier this fall if he'd be willing to shave his head as part of the United Way fundraiser.

His answer: "Sure, why not?"

But while he was happy to brighten the students' day at Eastwood Elementary, Moe's motivation was a bit more heartfelt.

"They tried to make it fun for the kids," he said. "We want to get them to contribute and give something back to the community."

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