Jackson Johnston used to have long, shaggy blond hair with side-sweeping bangs. Think: Justin Bieber before the tattoos.
But on Sunday, the 11-year-old buzzed his coiffure, right down to the scalp.
The haircut was difficult for Jackson, said his mother, Amber Johnston. The kid “loved his bangs.” As she moved methodically over his dome, Jackson held the already chopped hair scraps in his hands. But even as he mourned his mane, he smiled, knowing this trim was for a greater good: Jackson was shaving his head to support his beloved grandfather, Papa Rick, who had recently lost his hair to Mantle cell lymphoma.
Monday, Jackson went to Pekin Middle School in southeast Iowa and was met with taunts and mean remarks: “Hey Baldy!” “You look like a cancer patient.” “Why would you want a cancer patient’s haircut?” After finding out about the comments, Johnston called Principal Tim Hadley.
That’s when Hadley got a wild hair. He could discipline those who had made the cracks, throw the student handbook at them, or he could do something entirely unexpected.
“We take the issue of bullying seriously,” Hadley said, “but I thought if you believe in something, you have to find a way to stand up and literally show your support. So I was lying in bed and I thought maybe I will get a hold of his mom and ask her to send those clippers in.”
As he fired off a text to Jackson’s mom requesting the clippers, he knew what he was going to do: Hadley would hold a school assembly and ask Jackson to shave his head.
( Read the rest of this make a difference story right here. )