Four local high school graduates had the rare opportunity on Tuesday to shave the sheriff’s head as a reward for all of the county’s students not having any alcohol or drug-related incidents during the 2012 prom season.
In April, Carter County Sheriff Chris Mathes told students from each of the county’s high schools that if there were no incidents during prom season, he would allow a few students to shave his head. According to Mathes, there were no alcohol or drug-related incidents during prom season in Carter County. As a result, two students from each of the county’s high schools were chosen to shave the sheriff’s head. The sheriff pulled the names from a hat.
One student from each school turned out for Tuesday’s shaving, which was held inside Whitson’s Barbershop on West Elk Avenue in Elizabethton. The sheriff said he allowed his hair to grow out over the past couple months to allow students to shave his hair on Tuesday. Amber Wooten of Cloudland High School, Corey Pierce of Unaka High School, Kaitlin Winters of Hampton High School and Nicole Campbell of Happy Valley High School participated in the shaving.
Each of the students used the electric razor to trim the sheriff’s hair as the barbers watched. At least one of the youth had never shaved someone’s hair before. Mathes joked saying that at least one other student might have a future as a barber.
The unique event also drew several local media outlets, which crammed into the small barber shop as the four youth shaved the sheriff’s hair. Mathes said it was important to recognize local youth for their efforts during prom season.
“Every prom season, we lose teenagers,” Mathes said. “Our kids are faced with a tremendous amount of pressure.”
The Carter County Sheriff’s Department sponsored the Prom Promise in mid-April, shortly before the kickoff of prom season for local high school students. All of the county’s seniors were brought to Hampton High School where a graphic dramatization was held depicting a realistic fatal drunken driving crash.
“It made an impact on the students,” Mathes said.
Students from Milligan College played the part of the high school seniors. After the students mingled with parents, they left for the prom and began drinking beer. A short time later, spectators witnessed the dramatic crash scene. Two vehicles struck each other head-on. All four students were bloody, one had been thrown through the windshield, lying lifeless over the hood of the mangled car. The driver had managed to exit the vehicle on his own, but was stumbling around, covered in blood.
The dramatization included a full-scale response from local first responders, including the Carter County Rescue Squad and Wings Air Rescue.
After witnessing the dramatization, students signed a Prom Promise for their parents, which guaranteed that they would return home safely from the prom. Sheriff Mathes said he took the promise one step further, guaranteeing the students that if there were no incidents during prom season, the students could shave his head.
Mathes said he was not nervous about having his head shaved, until he was driving to the barber shop. He added, “What have I done?”
The sheriff noted that there are not many people who can say, “I got to shave my sheriff’s head,” he said.
The initial Prom Promise event was organized by Deputy Shane Watson, a school resource officer at Cloudland High School. The event was professionally filmed by a videographer, which Mathes noted on Tuesday will be used during future prom seasons.
After Tuesday’s shaving, Mathes shook the hand of each of the students, thanking them for the hair cut and Prom Promise. When he shook Pierce’s hand, the young man asked for $5 for the hair cut. Everyone in the shop laughed and went on with their day.