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Stuartholme girls end senior year by raising $36,000 for cancer research

Proud students: Hayley Bowden and Lucy Baker sporting their new hairstyles after shaving their heads for cancer research. The Year 12 vicecaptains of Stuartholme School were among 36 students who cut or shaved their hair to raise money for cancer research. Photo: Stuartholme School

HAYLEY Bowden and Lucy Baker have less hair than when they started Grade 12, but it’s not from the stress of navigating boarding school during a pandemic.

The vice-captains and boarders of Stuartholme School, Brisbane’s only Catholic girls boarding school, shaved their heads for cancer to a live-stream audience on October 9.

The pair were among 36 Year 12 students who took on the Ponytail Project, which encourages young women in Australia to cut off or shave their hair while raising money for cancer research.

The school community raised more than $36,000 for Cancer Council, and Miss Bowden and Miss Baker cut off enough hair to donate towards a wig for a child with cancer or alopecia.

“We both cut off 36cm of hair so hopefully it will go towards a child’s wig,” Miss Bowden said.

Miss Bowden described the event as “a last hurrah” to the most challenging year of their school life.

“It’s definitely been a light at the end of the tunnel, and I think it’ll be something the girls can look back on knowing that at least something went right for them in terms of the last events,” Miss Bowden said.

“Hopefully it’ll become a legacy for our grade and a tradition that we can continue because it probably will be one of our bigger fundraisers.”

Rocking the chop: The Year 12 students from Stuartholme School who participated in the Ponytail Project, raising $36,000 for Cancer Council last week. Photo: Stuartholme School

Originally from Longreach, Miss Bowden has been a boarder at Stuartholme since she was 11 years old, so she has not introduced her family to the new hairstyle yet.

Her family’s first look at the nervous teenager was through a live-stream of the event posted on Stuartholme’s Facebook page.

“Thankfully we were able to live-stream the event to parents and friends which was fantastic not just so we could adhere to COVID-19 restrictions but so the families of students such as myself who don’t live in Brisbane could also tune in to the event,” Miss Bowden said.

“This made me feel supported just knowing they were watching and had donated to support the cause.

“Of course, we also had all our peers and teachers at the event to support the seniors which made the day even more fulfilling and really cemented the feeling of solidarity which brought together the community.”

While the full extent of donations are yet to be counted, Miss Baker said she was blown away by the generosity, particularly during these tough economic times.

“Obviously everyone’s been financially stressed during such an unpredictable time, so to have that generosity from everyone was just so amazing and I think it just kind of solidified the fact that it was a really worthy cause that everyone was partaking in,” she said.

“Even if we had only raised $100 everyone would have been proud of the effort so to get to such a massive number is so crazy.”

During the live-streamed event, Year 12 co-ordinator Margaret Devlin described her students as “kind and generous” girls who “led in what would be the most unprecedented time but they led beautifully and with positivity”.

“It doesn’t matter what hairstyle they’re rocking, they are absolutely divine,”Ms Devlin said.

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