High school graduates give principal blue mohawk

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by Catherine Holland

GMAZ interviews by Javier Soto and Tess Rafols

Posted on May 24, 2013 at 11:12 AM

Updated Sunday, Nov 24 at 5:36 PM

Map: Arizona Collegiate H.S.
3161 N. 33rd Ave.

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PHOENIX -- A Phoenix principal gave his students a unique graduation gift Friday. He let them give him a blue mohawk -- on live TV.

Mike Dunbar, principal of Maryvale's Arizona Collegiate High School, wanted not only to show his school spirit, but also to reward his graduating seniors for working hard and overcoming many obstacles.

On the last day of school, the students, armed with electric clippers and a can of spray-on hair color, gleefully shaved Dunbar's head, giving him a slightly off-center bright blue mohawk.

"I'm very proud of our kids. They had to do the work," Dunbar said in a news release. "We provided them with the opportunity and the tools to be successful and most accepted the challenge to reach ACHS's high benchmark."

"Last year, we graduated 24 students," Dunbar told 3TV's Javier Soto and Tess Rafols. "We had a goal to graduate at least 40 this year, and we were lucky enough to hit that goal. We had 40 students graduate so I decided to go ahead and keep my end of the bargain.

"I'm super, super proud [of the graduates]," he continued, clippers buzzing in his ear as the kids shaved his head. "A lot of them have overcome a lot of adversity to be able to walk across that stage [to get their diplomas]. I think the fact that they came back to school two days after they graduated really shows the community feel that we have here."

Dunbar said many of his students had negative feelings towards school, principals and teacher before going to ACHS, so his goal in allowing them to shave his head was relatively simple.

"I wanted to give them a symbol that school can be fun, that you can have fun with what you're doing," he explained. "It doesn't all have to be about tests and homework and all those types of things. I wanted to give them something that they'll remember forever."

Mission accomplished.

The grads, several of whom are big fans of Javier, were all smiles as they gave Dunbar his new 'do.

So, what did Dunbar think of his new look?

"I thought it looked all right. I'm not going to lie to you," Dunbar said as the kids -- and Tess -- laughed. "It's a little off-center, but, you know, [I'll] let it grow out a little bit."

Founded in 2011, Arizona Collegiate is a charter school that helps students build the academic skills needed for excelling in high school, college and other professional settings regardless of the students academic history.

"Before I attended this school. I would ditch classes. I would get D's and F's and now I get A's and B's," said former student Gabriel Chavez. "This school meant a lot to me because it helped me graduate."

Last year, Dunbar took pies in the face from his graduates. He hasn't decided what the incentive will be for next year's class.

"Someone mentioned eating a jalapeño for every graduate that we've had," he said. "I don't know, but I'm sure we'll do something fun."

If you'd like any information on Arizona Collegiate High School, check out their website at www.achseagles.us or call them at 623-498-8200. 

They accept up to 250 students each year and are holding a series of open houses this summer.

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