Pal Buddhist School students and staff raise $50,000 as part of Shave4Wesak

Thumbs up: Eric Tiet, Quy-Huan Nguyen-Phuoc, Niwatey San and Cynthia Jin.
Thumbs up: Eric Tiet, Quy-Huan Nguyen-Phuoc, Niwatey San and Cynthia Jin.

It's hard to work out what is more impressive about Pal Buddhist School's Shave4Wesak event.

There is the more than $50,000 the 19 students and three teachers have raised by shedding their locks with the year-12 students starting the shaving on Friday. Not bad considering they were originally sceptical about meeting their initial target of $6000. Two more shaving sessions for the junior students are planned next term.

Then there is the fact the money is going to help purchase land to move out of their small, two-storey rented premises in Canley Vale - the benefits of which the currents students won't come close to seeing.

But perhaps most importantly for Cynthia Jin, Niwatey San, Alex Rogaris, Aaron Vuong, Evan Yu, Eric Tiet, Quy-Huan Nguyen-Phuoc, Chris Hoang it is the example they are setting for other students and the community.

Cynthia, 17, was one of the three female students to get a number one cut on Friday. Gone were her 50-centimetre locks and replaced by a feeling of liberation - and less time in front of the mirror.

"I wanted to be able to show the other students - especially other girls - you don't need hair to feel happy and confident," the female school captain said.

"Most people would expect shaving your head would be a huge deal and your entire world shifts but it's not. I feel like the same person, whether or not I have hair doesn't change that but it has reinforced my belief we don't need hair to be beautiful.

"Hair has always been a large focus in my life whether it is from myself or others. Shaving my head to acts as a literal reminder of my commitment to cutting off unnecessary attachments, to keep improving as a person. I want to show others that our physical appearance doesn't define us but rather what is on the inside that counts."

Female vice-captain Niwatey San said her hair acted as a defence to protect herself from the "fear of judgement."

"But it also prevents me from seeking confidence in my looks. I always feel that it is my duty to constantly change myself because I am not 'perfect' or on par with the current 'standard' of society. My school opened my eyes and challenged my perspectives of impermanence and faults. Moreover, it made me understand the power of the mind to aid or harm you," the 17-year-old said.

Founding principal Panha Pal said: "I am confident that the spiritual (or inner) journey that each student pursues at Pal Buddhist School not only cultivates their upright wholesome moral conduct, but their refinement in academic prowess as well as nurturing the increase of their wisdom-the greatest tool one can possess."