Nov. 20—Highlands High School junior Kevin Gonzalez is the first recipient of an award created by the school's senior class officers to recognize students who go above and beyond what's expected of them and set good examples.

Gonzalez, 17, of Brackenridge, was selected for the "Student Spotlight" award because he found a way to make something good out of the difficult covid-19 pandemic.

Unable to get his hair cut while barbershops and hair salons were closed because of pandemic-related restrictions, Gonzales said he decided to grow his hair long and then, once the businesses reopened and he could get his hair cut, donate it to a charity that makes wigs for children who have lost theirs

"My mom suggested I should consider donating it," he said. "I thought that was a pretty good idea."

While keeping his hair short on the sides, Gonzales guesses that down the middle it's grown to between 9 and 10 inches long, which he said is the longest it's ever been.

"It's a bit harder to manage," he said.

He plans to let his hair grow until around Christmas before cutting it. Gonzales said he and his family have not yet decided on which organization will receive his hair.

Gonzales' older brother, Kory, 19, a freshman at the University of Pittsburgh, also has long hair and said he's thinking about donating it — but not for a while.

"I'm going to wait," Kory said. "I like my hair."

After getting his hair cut in December, Kevin Gonzales said he might let it grow out again and make another donation.

Gonzales said the Student Spotlight award "is a really nice thing to do for students who go above and beyond and don't get recognized."

Highlands' senior class officers launched the monthly "Student Spotlight" program. Teachers can nominate students in any grade, with the winner receiving a certificate and being recognized at a school board meeting.

Senior class president Jacob Allan said he got the idea because of students complaining there was not enough incentive for doing good.

"I really want to make sure the people who do good are put out there so everybody can see what they are doing," said Allan, 18, of Tarentum. "We have some amazing kids in this school, and I want to put them in the limelight."

Allan said they are already looking at students to be recognized in December. Any high school student in any grade is eligible, including Highlands students attending Forbes Road Career & Technology Center.

"I want to make sure these kids get what they deserve," Allan said.

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Brian at 724-226-4701, or via Twitter .

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