School wins, priest loses -nbsp;by a hair

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 13, 1999

ADAMS – Sacred Heart Catholic School is $21,177 richer and the Rev.

Wednesday, October 13, 1999

ADAMS – Sacred Heart Catholic School is $21,177 richer and the Rev. Gregory Leif is poorer … by a hair or more.

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Leif challenged the Sacred Heart Catholic School students to reach a fundraising goal at this year’s marathon. If they reached the goal, the Catholic priest would shave his hair and beard.

He lost and the school won.

"When we counted the money, we determined it would be a close shave either way," Leif joked.

On Tuesday at a mid-day assembly in the Sacred Heart fellowship hall, Lisa Wiste of Uptown Cut trimmed a thick head of hair to a "buzz-style" length and shaved all his whiskers.

Leif has worn a beard since 1977.

Actually Leif escaped a year ago, when he said he would shave his beard if the students met their 1998 fundraising goal, but they fell $1,200 short and the beard remained.

"Give us another chance next year, they said," Leif recalled.

This year, he upped the ante and the students responded.

"Many, many more people responded and stepped forward this year and I lost the bet," he said, while Wise trimmed his hair. "I feel like a sheep."

A total of 125 students participated in the Thursday, Sept. 23, fund-raiser. "I ran the 10 miles and while I was running, one of the students biked by me and said ‘Father, I got more than I needed. You’re going to be bald’ and he was right," Leif said.

"It’s wonderful," said Joanne (Mrs. Larry) Croker, teacher and principal of Sacred Heart Catholic School. "When we were planning the marathon, I really didn’t think that we would make the goal, but we did it and I’m proud of the students>"

According to Croker, the annual fall marathon is one of the few fund-raisers undertaken by the school. Like others, it involves the support of the Knights of Columbus organization and parent-volunteers.

"We appreciate what Father Leif did and how the students responded," said Croker. "One of the additional benefits of a project such as this is the bonding that takes place between the students, the parish and the whole community."

Wiste, who is Leif’s regular barber, confessed to being nervous as she cut the priest’s head and facial hair on stage before the student assembly.

When she finished, Leif rubbed his bare chin and the short thatch of hair atop his head. Then, the stage curtains were pulled open and the priest’s new do unveiled. The students, first through eighth graders, applauded and squealed at the sight before starting to change "Shave it! Shave it!"

It was "Crazy Hat Day" at the school and students and faculty all wore their wildest fedoras. Principal Croker took the stage to thank the priest for his gesture, wearing a stocking cap and wig. Then, she pulled them off and revealed a skull cap, which left her looking bald. The students applauded and squealed in delight.

Leif congratulated the students for surpassing the $21,000 goal, but refused their chanted requests to shave the rest of his hair. "Next year," he said, "we’ll leave it up to the teachers to come up with something else."

Key to the success of the fund-raiser is the effort of the Sacred Heart parents group to organize it. Shari Heimer, Claire Simon, Melissa Smith and Karen Noterman coordinated the efforts.

Heimer expressed the committee’s appreciation to all who participated in making the fund-raiser a success.

Then, the mothers distributed prizes to the students who garnered the most pledges and who collected the most money.

The first graders obtained the highest average pledge this year ($26) and the seventh graders collected the most money ($7,593).

Leif collected $630 in pledges himself for the fund-raiser and businesses donated $1,042.

The seventh graders marathon leading total was bolstered by the efforts of A.J. Wiste, the top money-earner of the fund-raiser. Wiste, the son of Dave, Jr., and Ellen Wiste, was aided once again by his great-aunt, Dorothy Blake, a Sacred Heart alumni, and her employer, U.S. West Communications.

Last year, Blake pledged $2,000 and this year, she pledged $5,000. Her employer matched the total and it amounted to a $10,000 contribution to Sacred Heart Catholic School.

The seventh grader said he’s getting a good education at Sacred Heart. "Sure, I’m getting a good education," he said. "I like this school better than any."

Marathon results

Sacred Heart Catholic School students who recorded the most pledges include (first-place finisher followed by second-place):

First Grade, Nicholas Neuvirth, Brennan Walk; Second Grade, Paige Fasbender, Maria Noterman; Third Grade, Mathew Walk, Isaac Noterman; Fourth Grade, Ben Zillgitt, Brian Voigt; Fifth Grade, Donna Neuvirth, Andrew Boe; Sixth Grade, Bradley Kiefer, Kristin Anderson; Seventh Grade: Cathy Schneider, Katie Bissen; Eighth Grade, Tim Neuvirth, Jennifer Boe.

Also, students collecting the most money included (first-place finisher followed by second-place):

First Grade: Holly Goergen, Steven Sathre; Second Grade, Steven Lammers, Lucas Schaefer; Third Grade: Chelsey Smith, Casey Mullenbach; Fourth Grade: Jason Steinkamp, Kari Anderson; Fifth Grade: Brian Monson, Anna Noterman; Sixth Grade: Hilary Fasbender, Marie Boe; Seventh Grade: Andrew (A.J.) Wiste; Eighth Grade: Angela Drees, Shannon Halbach.