At the Holton Career and Resource Center, Katony Stanfield, 17, prepares to shave a reclined client in the school’s barbershop. Upstairs in the cosmetology classroom, students Irene Diaz, 18, and Rebecca Aguilar, 17, sit behind computer screens searching the internet for hair images for the grand opening flyer. Down the hall, a group of students watch a PowerPoint presentation about possible career opportunities.
The community center, located in the heart of East Durham, is a pillar for students interested in mastering a trade and possibly diving head first into a career.
Each program is expecting new changes for the next school year with intentions set on enhancing the learning experience for students.
According to Assistant Principal Lisa Bair, a fire safety program will be added to the public safety curriculum next year. Those interested in pursuing a career in this field can sign up as early as January for fall classes.
The two-year fire safety program will prepare students to pass the required state test to become firefighters.
“Beginning next year, the students will be able to come and get all of their credits here instead of coming from other high schools,” Bair added. “They will start enrolling just in Holton and they will get their English and math here as well. It will be a full four-year program for them.”
Bair further explained that during the first year students will take general classes upstairs, in the high school located in the building. Then students will transition downstairs and complete their specific programs.
During their senior year, students will have the option to take business classes at Durham Technical Community College through the College Career Promise, a state funded program, and receive college credits.
Bair said that expanding the program to four years and having students enrolled at the Holton Center will give students more time to focus on building strong GPAs.
The barber school is a three-year program and students are required to complete 1510 hours for the licensing examination. All of the hair-cuts, shaves, and washes are done by students while instructors monitor close by.
Mario Little has been an instructor at the Holton barber shop for one year. Before coming to the Holton Center he worked at Park West Barber School for three years.
Little said he enjoys working with the students because it allows him to give back to the community.
The barber shop is open to the general public Monday through Friday from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m.
Students enrolled in the barber program learn the importance of giving back to the community by providing free services for displaced veterans and by giving discounted hair cuts to Durham police officers, firefighters, and military personnel.
The three-year cosmetology program is also open Monday through Friday and these students are required to complete 1500 hours before taking the state examination.
Not only are these students working towards becoming beauticians but they are also learning how to advertise and market their business.
“Before joining the cosmetology program, I learned how to do hair by watching YouTube and I’ve always done my own hair,” said Nielah Hicks, 17.
The Holton website explains that students enrolled in the public safety program learn basic career information including corrections, emergency and fire management, security and protection, law enforcement, and legal services. At the end of the course students develop a personal plan for a career in public safety.
“Students in this program also volunteer with the Durham Rescue Mission helping with the Dress for Success program and annually help build homes for Habitat for Humanity,” Bair said.
Before exiting the programs students are required to meet with Heather Haymer-Covington the Career Development Coordinator. With her assistance students decide what plan of action they want to take after their course is completed.
The Holton Career and Resource Center is located on 401 N. Driver St and re-opened in 2007 while Dr. Carl Harris served as Durham Public School superintendent. The push to revive the community inspired the renovation of the abandoned former high school.
In addition to the cosmetology, barber and public safety classes the Holton Center offers a wide range of programs to the community including the Duke Wellness Center, and Durham Parks and Recreation programs and activities.
The students welcome new clients everyday and to show their appreciation for their community, Voice readers will receive a free hair cut from the barber shop or cosmetology program simply by mentioning this article.
This story first appeared in the Durham VOICE, a community newspaper produced by NCCU and UNC-Chapel Hill journalism students.