Seymour High School partners with beauty school to provide cosmetology classes for students


With skill and confidence, Taylor Fellows deftly wraps wet strands of hair around a curling rod and secures it in place, quickly picking up another to repeat the process.

Next to her, Dunia Pacheco and Zasheme Castillo are doing the same, learning the proper technique for perming someone’s hair.

Afterwards, they may work on dyeing and cutting hair, creating elaborate braids and updos, applying airbrush makeup or acrylic nails or giving a pedicure.

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The three Seymour High School students are enrolled in a cosmetology course at Hair Force Beauty Academy in downtown Seymour. They are the first students to be part of a new vocational partnership between the high school and local beauty school.

Owned and operated for 30 years by Alan Killey and his wife, Dana, Hair Force is making it possible for high school students to become licensed cosmetologists quicker and without having to leave Seymour.

In the past, Seymour students interested in learning cosmetology in the hopes of one day becoming a hair stylist, makeup artist or nail technician have had to attend C4 Columbus Area Career Connection.

Because the classes and salon work go beyond the regular school day, students were forced to provide their own transportation to and from the program.

Now, students don’t have to drive as far and can even walk to Hair Force’s downtown location at 119 W. Second St. or have a parent or relative drive them.

The girls attend their regular classes at Seymour High School in the mornings and then spend the afternoons at Hair Force, staying as late as 6 p.m. to complete the required 1,500 hours of study and work.

After completing the requirements, they can graduate and then must pass the Indiana State Board of Cosmetology and Barbers licensing exam to work in a salon.

Killey, who is a licensed cosmetologist and instructor, works with the girls as a small group or one-on-one if they need extra assistance in mastering a skill or technique.

They are able to work at their own pace through the curriculum, he said.

The program is not for students who are just looking for a way to get out of school early, Killey added.

“These girls are putting in a lot of work,” he said.

For the first 200 hours, they use mannequins, but after that, they will get experience by working on real customers. Hair Force provides discounted walk-in services to the public, so students get the opportunity to do a variety of services.

Killey said his program allows the students to get more salon experience working on real people, whereas other programs rely heavily on mannequins.

“We have a huge clientele that come in and get their hair cut, their hair colored, their eyebrows waxed or some other service, and our students can do that,” he said.

It also helps that his program remains open during the summer and when school is out so students don’t get behind in their work.

Hair Force has a high graduation rate with nearly all students passing the state exam and getting their cosmetology license, Killey said.

Castillo, a junior, said she decided to pursue cosmetology as a career because she always has liked styling her own hair as well as her family and friends’ hair.

Her goal is to get licensed and become a stylist serving the men and women in the military and their families.

“That is my dream, to cut hair for the military,” she said.

She also has a talent and interest for painting nails, she said.

Seymour High School has made an effort to offer more vocational and trades classes locally, including agriculture, manufacturing and health care, so career training is accessible to all students, said Principal Greg Prange.

By offering programs locally, the school also is able to cut down on transportation costs.

Fellows, also a junior, said she knew of the cosmetology program in Columbus but had wanted to attend Hair Force because her own hair stylist, Micah Joray, graduated from there.

Joray now owns her own salon in Seymour.

“I talked to her about wanting to do cosmetology, and she told me to come here because of how good the program is,” Fellows said.

Like Castillo, Fellows said she always has liked doing hair and makeup.

“And I like people,” she said.

Although she was more experienced with the makeup side of cosmetology at the beginning, Fellows said after just a few weeks at Hair Force, she now feels just as confident working with hair.

Giving a perm wasn’t as difficult as the girls thought it would be, but some lessons are tricky.

“Finger waves, for me, have been the hardest,” Fellows said.

They also have learned how to do pin curls.

Pacheco, a senior, said cosmetology is “like magic.”

“You can change how people look and feel about themselves, give them more confidence,” she said.

Fellows said she thinks the ultimate goal for all cosmetologists is to own their own business one day, but after she graduates, she plans on working as much as she can at a salon to gain practical experience and build a customer base.

But she’s a little nervous to work on the floor on real customers for the first time.

“It’s a lot of responsibility working on real people versus mannequins,” she said. “The mannequins don’t complain if you do something wrong.”

She hopes to graduate from Hair Force before the beginning of next school year, so she tries to be there 30 hours a week now. They have to do at least 20 hours a week.

Students enrolled in the two-semester cosmetology course at Hair Force will earn both high school and college credits for successfully completing the program.

Seymour High School is paying $1,500 per student to complete the program. That amount covers the cost of the instructor, the tools and supplies needed and insurance coverage for the students.

“This gives our students the option of not having to go to Columbus,” Prange said. “It makes it more convenient for our students to have a pathway to earn a career certification.”

Pacheco said she enjoys the cosmetology classes because they are more interesting than sitting in a classroom learning from books.

“You are actually doing the work,” she said. “It’s hands-on.”

Prange said there were four or five students enrolled at C4 and six students who were unable to take the class in Columbus because they didn’t have transportation.

Students interested in the cosmetology program at Hair Force should talk to their school guidance counselor to enroll, Prange said.

Although the program with Hair Force is on a one-year trial, Prange said he is confident it will be well-received by students.

“Their success rate is high, and it provides more flexibility for our students,” he said.

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