Sarah Wittland's students demonstrated their blossoming cosmetology skills by giving manicures, pedicures and other services during their second day working with customers Friday at Hannibal Career and Technical Center Salon Services.
Wittland said that winter weather pushed the opening date back a bit, and students in the daily three-hour morning and afternoon classes arrived at this milestone after several stages of hands-on training and instruction. They began practicing techniques like foil hair coloring, styling, haircuts and facials on mannequins. The students took a variety of tests along the way, and they invited friends in for services before the doors of the salon officially opened to customers Thursday, Feb. 14.
Wittland said that each time the students see customers, they receive valuable knowledge that goes beyond traditional methods and the mannequins they practiced on during the early stages of the class.
"They get so much from their books, but then the way they really build their skills is just practice," she said. "People coming in, allowing them to do the services — that's what's helping them the most. The hands-on practice is the best."
Junior Savanna Marx agreed, describing how her confidence is already growing.
"It's definitely a little nerve-wracking at first to think that we're finally getting to work on actual people," she said. "But it's also a really fun and interesting experience, because we get hands-on learning, and it makes it so much easier to use it later on in life."
Students take appointments at 8 a.m. for the morning class and at noon for the afternoon class on Thursdays and Fridays. Wittland said it's important for the students to be comfortable as they move to this new stage. The appointments are not timed yet, so each student can focus on performing their best work.
They provide hairstyling like conditioning treatments, roller sets, shampoo and blow dry and basic braiding; hair color services like all over color, and highlights; chemical texturizing including basic perms and Virgin Relaxer applications; nail services like manicures and pedicures; waxing; and skin care such as a basic facial and makeup application.
Savanna was busy giving a spa pedicure to Emma Meyer, 11. Emma's sister, Delaina Meyer, 9, received a spa manicure from Breanna Pipkin. The Meyer sisters were visiting for their first time after their father told them about the salon, HCTC Director Brent Meyer.
"It's a lot of fun," Emma said. Her sister said receiving the manicure felt special.
"It feels really good that I'm here, because my dad's the principal here, and he told me about it, so I really wanted to get mine done," Delaina said.
Breanna reflected on the rewarding aspects of sharing her expertise.
"It's really nice," she said. "It makes me feel like I can help somebody. It makes me feel like a better person, because I get to be the person doing it instead of the person receiving it."
Raney Wilson gave a spa pedicure to her grandmother, Lennis Raney. She is a hairdresser, and she said that allowing the students to learn every aspect of cosmetology will provide lasting benefits.
"It's wonderful. It's a good vo-tech school, that they've added hands-on education for the girls," she said. "They'll be able when they graduate to walk out of high school and go right to their job."
Raney said her hands-on training has been a fun learning experience, recalling the chance to color her friend's hair before providing the spa pedicure treatment for her grandmother.
"I love it," she said. "I love getting to work on actual people and move up from our mannequins. It's great."
Students certain time frames as they master each technique, Wittland said, but this stage is all about getting comfortable working with customers and focusing on what they like about the cosmetology field.
"They need to enjoy it," she said. "If you don't enjoy it, then it's not worth it. And that's what's awesome about this industry — it's fun. And if you love it on top of that, it's amazing."
For more information about HCTC Salon Services or to set up an appointment, call 573-221-4430. You can also find out more about the program by visiting the HCTC Facebook page athttps://www.facebook.com/HannibalCTC/.