One Beard To Rule Them All

Beards, braids and body hair battle it out for Baptist Cancer Research


Photo: Laura Beard

Junior Alan Henderson spent the month of November growing his beard for the competition. His hard work paid off because he won the competition.

For those looking to have a luscious beard like Upper School Biology teacher Mr. Sam Abrams, he has a few words of advice.

“Keep it groomed. Don’t just let your beard grow and never trim up your neckline. Don’t be afraid of grooming products. There’s nothing emasculating about that because if not, you’re just going to look trashy, and you’re going to look terrible,” Mr. Abrams said. “There’s nothing attractive about looking like a mountain man.”

Mr. Abrams holds onto a wealth of opinions about men’s facial hair, but ultimately he has a single motto for those wishing to grow out their beards in the future.

“There’s effort that goes into it if you want it to be an actual thing, but like with anything else, you have to put a little bit of effort into your look,” Mr. Abrams said. “A little bit of effort goes a long way.”

The Medical Sciences Club has been selling wristbands since October. People who bought these wristbands were allowed to grow out their facial hair during the month of November and were able to take part in the contest on Dec. 6. The money was donated to the Baptist Cancer Research Foundation.

Grace Higley, a leader of the Medical Sciences Club along with Samantha Patton, believes in the potential of the contest to be something great for the school while the emphasis is still placed on the fundraising aspect.

“A lot of it was less based on the contest and more focused on raising money for the [Baptist] Cancer Research Foundation. The contest just kind of goes with it because there was a big association with cancer patients,” Higley said. “With the contest we really just want to have fun. I know a lot of people said they’re not going to buy wristbands because they can’t grow a beard, but the bigger point is to just be able to have fun.”

The contest has a growing history within the school. Recent alumnus Hudson Beaudry spearheaded the contest last year but credits fellow alumnus William McBride for starting it. The contest has been adapted with each new change in leadership, but the spirit behind it remains.

“Initially it was made to help not only St. Jude, but you could also bring in shaving supplies the first year that it happened. The shaving supplies would have been donated to Memphis Union Mission or some sort of mens’ charity. The other money would be donated to St. Jude,” Beaudry said. “But I ended up just changing it to only St. Jude because the shaving supplies thing was a little vague. So five dollars [that year] ended up being the better option.”

The contest benefitted all involved, from those at St. Jude to the St. George’s students who wanted to have more flexibility with the school dress code for a month.

“I enjoyed the fact that we were able to donate so much to St. Jude,” Beaudry said. “It felt like we were really making a difference in the community while giving St. George’s students options on how they wanted to look during the month of November.”

This year, additions have been made to the contest categories such as longest beard, best mustache, most like a fictional or famous person, braids and buns and best pigtails and freestyle.

“I like having different categories. Some people can’t grow mustaches, but they can grow like super long beards like Abe Lincoln,” Abrams said. “I’m excited about it. I think people will get into it.”

These changes allow for more competitive participation for those unable to grow beards, meaning mainly all the girls of the school. However, for those able to grow facial hair like junior Andrew Helfenstein, the build-up to the contest has been reassuring.

“I just get encouragement from teachers, like saying way to go and supporting the cause,” Helfenstein said.

In the course of the contest, an incentive was made to boost wristband sales. Teachers have volunteered to be shaved at the end of the contest period if 100 wristbands were sold. Mr. Sullivan and Mr. Abrams decided to participate in this; however, Mr. Abrams realized he had some mixed feelings about it.

“I’m not worried, I’m just scared I’m gonna have a fat face,” Abrams said. “That’s the thing that I’m most scared of is just a chubby chin and jowls. I don’t want that.”

With the results in for the Medical Sciences competition, it turns out Mr. Abrams will soon have to adjust to a beardless life, but in a surprise announcement, those of the upper school can now grow out their facial hair without fear of referrals.

“We’ve been talking to students a lot with the dress code conversations and understand the struggle that exists with having to shave and how that affects people differently,” Mrs. Underwood said. “As a result we are not going to require guys to shave anymore. They still need to have neat, short, trimmed beards but shaving won’t be required by the school anymore. Oh, and no neckbeards.”