Cosmetology department offers students opportunity to learn trade

Cosmetology department offers students opportunity to learn trade
As part of their in class training, students in the cosmetology department work on clients that come in to the department. Students not only learn how to fix hair, nails and makeup, they also learn how to run a salon business. (Olivia Davila photo) MORE COSMETOLOGY PHOTOS

As you walk down the hallway toward Panther Stadium, the smell of acetone and hair products wave over you. If you follow your nose you will find a room tucked away from the rest of the school. There you will hear hair dryers blowing, scissors snipping away, chairs being cranked to the appropriate height and the standard greeting anytime you walk into this room, “Hello! Welcome to Cosmetology!”

“I’ve always wanted to do hair. When I was five I had this friend. And she had this game on the computer where you cut Barbie’s hair and grow it back with a comb,” senior Aly Shaw said. “We ran into the bathroom and she was like ‘Cut my hair!’ and I said ‘Okay!”, so ever since then I’ve known I wanted to do hair.”

The cosmetology program runs their own salon on campus. Customers can get anything done on campus that they would at a salon in town.

“Most of our customers come here through referrals, word of mouth. They aren’t really scared, they may be a little nervous,” cosmetology instructor Joanette Manning said, “but once they get in the chair and realize the students are professional they kind of forget they’re in a school and feel like they are in an actual salon environment.”

Coach Colby Richards gets his hair done by Cosmetology because getting a haircut on campus becuase it is so convenient to have it done at school.

“I don’t have time to go get a hair cut until after practices and by then I am tired and want to get home to see my kids,” Richards said. “So going to cosmetology is so much easier for me.”

Those who take advantage of the services offered by the department say they have nothing but good things to say about how the students and teachers takes care of their business.

“When I first walked in, I was amazed by the facilities and the professionalism exhibited by the students,” teacher Karen Rittenberry said. “It was as if I had stepped into a working salon.”

Although the students conduct themselves in a professional manner, they are still learning. Manning says there are still times when they make mistakes, but says it’s part of the learning process.

“We just reassure the client that their hair will grow back,” Manning said. “Then hopefully the student learns from that mistake and won’t make it again.”

Students in the cosmetology program have the opportunity to earn their cosmetology licenses in high school rather than going to a beauty school after high school. Manning says there are benefits to the students being able to get their licenses before leaving high school.

“I think they benefit more on a level where they’re getting more personal skills. We as educators at the secondary level take more of an interest in our students. Once they graduate from high school and take it from the private sector it’s all about money,” Manning said. “Those in the private sector don’t really consider the students coming in because they’re dealing with all ages, but we’re dealing with students from ages 16-18 and we take just a little more interest in our kids.”

Aside from the personal benefits of the students earning their licenses in high school, students also leave high school with a financial advantage over their peers who may be leaving without a trade.

“These days people don’t have a lot of money to spend, so being able to have a license to operate in the cosmetology field right out of high school is a really good opportunity,” junior Stephanie Ortiz said.

The students don’t have to pay to go to beauty school after high school, and they say that it is much better to take advantage of the high school program.

“Going to beauty school would be much more expensive than what we have to pay in high school,” senior Kierra Greer said. “We only have to buy our supply kit for $300 and this doesn’t even come close to the cost of beauty school.”

When customers walk into the cosmetology room they see all types of people, and along with that, of course, different hairstyles.

“When I walked into cosmetology I was thinking, ‘I hope these girls don’t make my hair the same color as theirs! Red, Blue, Gold.’,” Richards said. “Now Aly cuts my hair every time I go in there and she does a great job.”

Stereotypically cosmetology is a “girl’s” program, but the program here welcomes all genders like those who are a part of the lgbtqia2s.

“It’s a stereotype. We were taught that boys don’t play with Barbies and girls don’t play with action figures, but I believe there’s no limit to what you do. If you like doing it, do it,” junior Te’Rodre’ Johnson said. “That’s what motivates me. The first thing people think when they think of cosmetology is a whole bunch of girls playing with hair and make up, when it’s so much more than that.”

Manning stresses that the stereotype about male cosmetologists is incorrect.

“I think a guy that’s willing to come in these doors in high school is a strong individual. He’s focused and knows what he wants to do,” Manning said. “Quite a few of the guys that come into this program are heterosexual males, and they’re just into making women look good. They know how they like to see a woman and they have a gift for it. And if you’ve ever paid attention, it’s a male dominated industry money wise. If you’re a male in this industry you make a lot of money. A woman likes coming to a man to get her hair done.”

The students in cosmology learn more skills than just how to cut hair and do nails.

“In here it’s not just about hair, skin and nails,” Manning said. “We teach them bookkeeping, accounting and the financial part about this industry that people tend to forget about.”

Students in the cosmetology program are in it for the long run. Students such as Shaw say they are optimistic about their future since this business will not go away anytime soon.

“Yeah, I’m not going to be a lawyer or a doctor or anything like that,” Shaw said, “but I am going to do hair because everyone needs to get their hair done!”