After growing their hair for nearly a year, teachers and students at Olympia Elementary School sheared their lengthy ponytails for Locks of Love during a Thursday afternoon assembly.
The act of generosity was done in honor of school Principal Terri Lebleu, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012.
“When someone in your life that's important to you is suffering, you want to be along with them,” said music teacher Mary Daniel.
Daniel had been growing her hair for more than four years before getting it cut Thursday.
“You can't go through everything with them, but you want to show them that you're supporting them," Daniel said of her decision.
The assembly took on an even more personal tone for the hundreds of students gathered in the gym.
On Saturday, fourth-grader Damon Billeck was diagnosed with bone cancer.
His father Brian attended the assembly to update Damon’s classmates on his condition.
“(Damon) gets it. He understands it. He knows what’s going to happen,” Billeck said. "I think the saddest part to him is not being here with his friends.”
The outpouring of support for her and Damon was enough to move Lebleu to tears.
“When teachers found out (about the diagnosis,) they were my strongest support system,” Lebleu said. “The thing I’m most impressed with is kids at such a young age really seeming to grasp it and they want to be there for their friends and they've been there for me.”
With his son in the hospital, Brian Billeck recorded a short video of hundreds of Damon’s classmates wishing him well.
“It's very lonely to be in it and know that you have to go through it, but when you see this and you see the school and everybody that came up, he's not going to be alone. He knows that now,” Billeck said.