Five-year-old Seth Ironchild has always been the light of his kindergarten class at Harlem Elementary School.
He always has a nice word to say about everyone in his classroom and in the rest of the school.
“He’s my little lovey,” said his kindergarten teacher, Mandy Hansen. “When I was having a hard day, he would say ‘Mrs. Hansen, you are a lovely person.’”
But now Seth is in the intensive care unit at a Spokane Hospital.
He has a brain tumor and has already gone through surgery and will likely face more operations.
The close-knit Harlem community has been devastated by the news, Hansen said.
People are praying and now they are uniting to raise funds to help Seth’s family through this difficult time.
At Seth’s desk, students have placed one of his jackets and Hansen brought in a teddy bear. Now classmates are bringing in other teddy bears.
Every day, Hansen has the students sit in a circle, hold hands and talk about Seth.
Hansen said one classmate lost a tooth. She got money from the tooth fairy. The next morning she brought it to school.
“This is for Seth,” she said, handing the tooth fairy’s money to Hansen.
“It amazes me how this wonderful Harlem community has united to help Seth,” she said.
Help has come from all over the Hi-Line, she said.
Now, Hansen, her principal, Shiloh Seymour, and other staffers at the school may be sacrificing their hair for Seth’s cause.
Hansen said Seymour called her into the office last week.
Seymour asked Hansen if she would be willing to lose her locks for Seth.
What? Hansen replied.
Seymour proposed that the two of them, as an incentive to get the kids to raise money for Seth, agree to have their heads shaved if they reached a $1,000 goal.
“I didn’t hesitate for a minute and neither did my principal,” she said.
“Your hair is just vanity,” she said. “This is the least I can do for my little lovey.”
So, they set it up.
March 7, if the students make enough money, the two will get their heads shaved while students cheer them on.
Hansen and Seymour will then head out to Spokane to give Seth the money raised by the students.
“We’ve decided not to wear hats or scarves,” Hansen said. “Except when we see Seth. We don’t want to scare him.”
As soon as they signed on to the deal, other staffers came forward to further challenge the students.
Staffers Lynda Brown, Tesscile Bell and Melody Sand have agreed to shave their heads if the students raise $2,000, $3,000 and $4,000 respectively.
The hair will be donated to Locks of Love, a program that provides wigs to people who lose their hair while undergoing chemotherapy.
“That makes it even more special,” Hansen said. “We are helping Seth, but we are also helping other people.”
The students will be conducting fundraisers.
Feb. 27, area residents will hold a 50-50 raffle at the casino at nearby Fort Belknap. Other things are being planned.
People are also free to donate books, teddy bears and other items Seth might want, she said. People can drop them off at the school.
Hansen said the reaction of the Harlem community has been inspiring.
“Seth has a loving, caring family that is being very supportive,” she said.
The school community has been supportive as well, she said.
Bell, the school secretary, spoke for the whole school.
“We have faith he will come back,” she said.