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Stylist Carla Bolduc cuts off about 9 inches of guidance counselor Lara Routhier's hair at Dunbarton Elementary School on Thursday. (KATHY REMILLARD/Union Leader Correspondent)

Student challenge a hair-razing experience

DUNBARTON - A challenge to students to perform good deeds has prompted a guidance counselor at Dunbarton Elementary School to do a significant good deed of her own.

In exchange for meeting a good deeds goal, Lara Routhier, in her second year at Dunbarton, agreed to cut off much of her hair - about 9 inches' worth - and donate it to a charity that makes wigs for cancer patients.

'September 17 is Citizenship Day, also known as Constitution Day, and I decided it would be a good time to start a good deed challenge at the school,' Routhier said.

She set a goal of 100 good deeds to be completed by the school's 200 students by Oct. 17, but cut the program short after students more than tripled it.

'We had 343 good deeds completed in three weeks,' she said.

The good deeds had to be legitimate in nature, Routhier said.

'The kids understood it had to be above and beyond what they're expected to do,' she said.

Students picked up trash, helped classmates with school work, took friends hurt on the playground to the nurse's office and stayed in for recess to help their teachers, Routhier said, giving them an idea of what it means to help others.

'I wasn't surprised that it caught on, but I was pleased that it did,' she said.

Routhier said teachers got on board with the plan as well.

'It was nice, because at morning meetings, teachers used that time to brainstorm what good deeds could be done,' she said. 'The teachers really supported it and reinforced it.'

Students at the school screamed and cheered as Carla Bolduc of Goffstown's Family Main Street Salon clipped off Routhier's two ponytails.

'My deed was nothing compared to what she just did,' said sixth-grader Kylie Murphy.

Murphy, who picked up in the school bathroom and helped her friends stack chairs, said doing something good for others made her feel good as well.

Fellow student Olivia Bohlin said she learned a lot from the project, and that seeing Routhier's haircut will always remind her of what the students did.

'I learned it's really important to do good deeds,' she said. 'It made me feel good about myself.'

Routhier said she hopes the students will take the external motivation she provided and eventually turn it inward.

'I hope the long-term effect is that they feel good about doing something for someone without being asked,' she said.

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