Maggie Aguilar was visibly nervous when she took her seat on the stage in front of her peers at Estancia High School in Costa Mesa on Tuesday morning.
She ran her fingers through her long, dark brown hair one last time before a stylist took scissors to the luminous locks.
The junior shifted in her seat slightly as the stylist measured her hair and put it into a ponytail. With just one quick snip, Maggie's hair was 16 inches shorter.
More than 20 girls had their hair cut on campus Tuesday morning. Their goal was to donate at least eight inches of hair each to Children With Hair Loss, a nonprofit organization that makes wigs for children facing various diseases.
"I've always had long hair," Maggie said. "Everyone deserves hair. It's what makes girls beautiful."
As she had in the fourth grade, Morgan Miller, now a junior, planned to donate her hair to the charity this year. After talking with friends, she realized that her peers might be interested in donating as well.
"I have so much hair that I get annoyed with how much I have to do with it in the morning," Morgan said. "Some kid wants to have hair to brush and play with. It just seemed natural to donate it."
The list of interested girls grew quickly, she said. By Tuesday morning, 13 students were signed up for the public haircut.
Several girls, including junior Slade Garnett, decided to donate as soon as they saw their peers getting their tresses lopped off.
Slade darted for the mirror as soon as her ponytail was cut and looked around for approval from friends — some sort of validation that she hadn't made an 8-inch mistake.
"I definitely didn't want to have my hair short, but it's for a good cause," she said.
By the end of the event, 21 ponytails were labeled and placed in plastic bags for donation.
Watching the donation process was emotional for sophomore Emma Griffith, who lost her hair last year during chemotherapy.
Emma was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, the most common type of bone cancer, in her hip when she was a freshman.
While going through treatment is difficult, the hair loss made it much worse, she said.
"It's hard to not look like everyone else, especially in high school," she said, wiping tears that had started to form in the corners of her eyes.
Emma's sister Abigail Griffith, a senior, and her best friend, Jayne Hubbard, a junior, donated their hair in support.
"I'm very nervous, but I think it's overdue," Abigail said.