(T-G Photo by Tracy Simmons)
"This is the shortest her hair has been since she was a little girl," noted Myrtle Draper, Talbott's mother, who was on hand to watch the event.
Both Talbott and Reita Vaughn, the school's principal, had surprised students in the assembly by cutting their hair and donating the ponytails to Locks of Love, a national non-profit organization that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children suffering from long-term medical hair loss.
"I've wanted to do this for many years, and my hair is finally long enough to do it," said Vaughn.
Cancer is a subject Vaughn takes seriously. Her mother, Helen Giles, is a 30-year survivor of ovarian and colon cancer. Her grandmother died of colon cancer and nine years ago, she lost a sister, Annette Grossberg, to lung cancer. Homer and Jean Vaughn, her in-laws, both passed away from cancer-related illness just five years ago.
Kindergarten student Payton Templeton, the granddaughter of the school's long-time administrative assistant Johnnie Templeton, battled leukemia for several years and is now in remission. Payton lost much of her hair during treatments, but enjoyed wearing wigs and hats during that time.
The assembly was part of the school's continuing community service efforts. This month students are on track to collect more than 4,000 non-perishable food items -- which will become part of Thanksgiving food boxes for needy families next month.
In addition, faculty and staff have supported cancer awareness by donating $5 each time they wore blue jeans to school this month. The money collected this year totaled more than $500, and was given to a local family struggling through the economic impacts cancer can cause.