Nineteen students from Proviso East High School and Proviso West High School are learning the right way to give a shave and a haircut in District 209’s new barber program.
The students have been training at the Erskine Reeves Barber Academy in Hillside since the start of the second semester in January. Students upon completion of the program at the end of the 2015-16 school year will be able to get certified and licensed as barbers with the possibility of going into business for themselves.
"Everybody needs a haircut," said Mr. Reeves, the owner of the barber academy and a 1997 Proviso West graduate.
The barber program is one of several new programs being offered to District 209 students for the 2014-15 school year. Along with the pre-International Baccalaureate Program at Proviso Mathematics and Science Academy and the Project Lead the Way pre-engineering class at Proviso West that began at the start of the current school year and the new Proviso Evening School and the cosmetology class, the barber program is part of a renewed move toward increasing educational opportunities for students in vocational fields.
In the barber program, students learn all aspects of the barber trade, from providing a shave with a straight-edge razor and shampooing and conditioning to cutting hair with scissors and clippers and using a straightener. They also learn about the various products used in the field. Students also will learn how to create a business plan, a task that they will have to do before completing the program successfully.
"It’s a billion dollar industry," said Mr. Reeves, who said that he has worked with several celebrities including members of the Chicago Bulls and Judge Greg Mathis of television fame. "There’s so much to do. They’ll be career ready."
Students in the class had their own reasons for taking the class, with varying aspirations.
Craig Satchell Jr., a Proviso West junior, said that he has been cutting his own hair since he was 12 years old. He said that the class will help him with his plans to study architecture or graphic design at Columbia University in New York.
"It’s a trade," Craig said. "I am going to college and I want to have some pocket money."
Anthony E. Stewart, a senior at Proviso East, said that he is going into the Marine Corps after graduation in May, but he appreciates the experience in the barber class.
"It’s the life experience and helping people out," he said. "I’m going to have a family someday and I want to pass on what I learned."
Dr. Nettie Colllins-Hart, superintendent of District 209, said that the students were being prepared for college and for a possible career.
"The students are learning all sorts of new things, and they are very excited about the program," she said. "We want students to walk away not only with a high school diploma, but also a skill."