Chilliwack student hairstylist getting ahead of the game

New hairstyling program at CSS gives students Red Seal certification

There’s a new hair studio in town, and on Tuesday its 13 new stylists were buzzing with excitement, quite literally.

They were also shearing, colouring, braiding, shaping, curling, rolling, and even hand painting hair.

The Hair Studio at Chilliwack senior secondary is a long-awaited addition to the high school’s offerings. This year is seeing the first class of students to move through the 10-month program, ending with a Level 1 Red Seal certificate for the graduates.

They had a chance to trim the coifs of school district staff and visitors alike during Tuesday’s open house. But it was hardly the first time the students have worked on a live model. The studio, which is located off the school’s open atrium on the main floor, has been open and running for a while now. While they have the help of instructor Anna Portman, they are in charge of everything they’d be asked to do in a private salon, from booking customers to taking payment, and everything in between.

It’s an intense apprenticeship program, combining fine-tuned skill with scientific learning and time actually working. Students must not only master the fine art of styling hair, they need to perfect the science behind it. And they need to do all while providing excellent client service. They have three operating days, while on Mondays the students are busy with school work. On Fridays, they’re each out in salons around the community, learning on the job and earning time towards graduation.

The curriculum runs the gamut from design principles, cutting and styling, to first aid, infection control and anatomy, as well as chemistry and trichology.

Twice in the program, the students head out for a practicum, and in total they log 240 hours of experience.

It’s a provincial Industry Training Authority approved course, up to standards. And it’s not easy to get in, says CSS principal Sharon Bernard.

Students need to have a strong attendance record, be committed to a rigourous program that operates outside of school hours, they need to complete all mandatory Grade 10 and 11 courses, and demonstrate a strong work ethic. Like all choice programs, the hair stylist program is available to all eligible students in the district. It runs from February to June, with a break in the summer, and then picks up again for the fall semester and ends in January. Some of the students enrolled are in Grade 12, and others would have graduated already but have extended their studies to complete the training.

Danielle Ross has done the latter, and is looking forward to succeeding in the course and beginning her career.

“This is something I’ve done since I was really little,” she says, while braiding the hair of fellow student, Shaelyn Daase. Growing up, she had strict rules to follow and wasn’t allowed to dye her hair. Now, a shock of bright blue and purple line her face, blending in with her own dark brown locks.

“That probably fueled my passion for (hair styling),” she says.

She says she measures her own success in doing what’s not expected. Daase agrees. Her long term goal is to be a welder, but it’s an expensive path to take. With her mind open to trades, and a love of self expression, she has dived into the hair styling program with a purpose. Once she completes this course and apprenticeship, she plans to work and save to put herself through the same process to be a welder.

“I’m going to be ahead of the game,” she says.

While they are working hard at the knowledge aspect of the program, they also are working to find clients. Without a sign out front of the school, passersby may not realize they could pop in for a new ‘do.

They are open every Tuesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and every Wednesday afternoon from 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.

To make an appointment and to inquire about pricing call 604-701-4949, or drop by the studio during open hours.