DOOMED FACIAL ORNAMENT — Rex Reynolds III, a social studies teacher at Warrensburg high School, has pledged to shave his mustache — adorning his face for more than three decades — if WCS students raise $500 for charity.
A popular local teacher is likely to be giving up a signature aspect of his appearance in an effort to raise money for charity.
Rex Reynolds III has pledged to shave off his trademark handlebar mustache — a key feature of his face for more than 30 years — if Warrensburg High School sophomores raise at least $500 for Operation Santa Claus. The charity provides toys, clothing and food to local youngsters during the holiday season.
Reynolds, a Social Studies teacher at Warrensburg High School, made the promise to assure that many local children can fully enjoy Christmas — but he’s a little squeamish about giving up his mustache for the cause, he said.
“If they meet the goal, it’s definitely going to be weird to have my mustache gone,” he said, tugging on a corner of it. “I really take it for granted.”
Months ago, Reynolds was approached by Kayla Sweet, now a Sophomore at WCS, asking what price he put on his mustache. Reynolds quoted a sum of $500, which he thought at the time was high, he explained. The news got back to Class of 2016 advisor April Fiorentino, who approached Reynolds and said, “Are you serious?” he recalled.
Fiorentino said this week that the students are having fun with this challenge, which will mean the eradication of Reynolds’ facial trademark — a mustache that looks like it belongs to an 1800s Western desperado. She added that she is more than confident that the $500 threshold will be reached — so sure that a shaving session has been scheduled for Dec. 9 and a check presentation on Nov. 21 from the class to Florence LaPoint, who operates the charity.
“I have people saying, ‘Whatever you are short in donations, call us!’” Fiorentino said with a laugh. “I’m confident Rex will get his mustache sheared off.”
To contribute to the cause, cash can be inserted in collection jars set out at various retail stores around Warrensburg — Jacobs & Toney’s Meat Store of the North, Oscar’s Smoke House, Braley & Noxon Hardware, Nemec’s Sporting Goods and Cutting Crew hair salon, she said.
“I’m happy the kids are thinking ‘out of the box’ for this fundraiser,” she said. “The more fun it is, the more kids are going to participate.”
One fun and out-of-the-ordinary aspect of the fundraiser is that the students will be baking mustache cookies and mustache tree ornaments to sell Dec. 7 at Christmas in Warrensburg.
Twice in the past, Reynolds has pledged his hair growth for a purpose. In 1992, he was coach of the Warrensburg Junior Varsity Boys Basketball Team, which was enjoying a pretty good 15-4 season, Reynolds recalled. It was just days before a matchup with rival Lake George, which was undefeated at that point, he continued.
“I told them, 'If you guys beat Lake George, you can shave off my mustache,'” Reynolds said, adding that his team rose to the challenge and beat the Warriors by 5 points. Right after the game, the players shaved off his mustache in the school cafeteria.
“The players took a lot of swipes and I got a lot of cuts,” he said, noting that in this current challenge, the shave will be conducted safely at the Cutting Crew salon. “That won’t be happening again.”
Since as far back as about 1980, or before college, Reynolds has always worn his mustache, he said, noting he cut it off one other time, but grew it back. Another time, about four years ago, Reynolds pledged to shave his head for dual fundraisers conducted by WCS baseball players, for Operation Santa Claus and for a family left homeless by a home fire. The players raised about $300 in that effort. Reynolds is also known for aggressively collecting from other male faculty members for LaPoint’s annual charity basket raffle.
Fiorentino said she and the students were looking forward to seeing Reynolds, who is planning on retiring soon from his teaching post, give up his facial hair.
“It may be hard on him, losing his mustache and retiring at the same time,’ she chuckled. “Maybe he’ll have an identity crisis!”
Reynolds said that he is happy to make the sacrifice, considering it will boost the contribution to a worthy cause.
“I’m looking forward to the whole community being involved,” he said.