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Beautiful experience
Students in cosmetology program take on big events
Westside Salon 5 es
Brooke Thompson asks teacher Joyce Thomas for advice Saturday morning at Westside Salon. West Forsyth High School cosmetology students did hair, pedicures and manicures for the Sweatman-Blodgett bridal party. - photo by Emily Saunders
Carolina Guerrero’s friends kept asking if she was nervous about the wedding Saturday.

While the West Forsyth High School junior wasn’t, she did say it took a lot of preparation before she felt ready to do Sonya Sweatman’s hair for her nuptials.

“I asked [the bride] what kind of hairstyle she wanted and she showed me a picture, and then my friend and me started to practice on curling with two people on one head,” Guerrero said. “I felt that I was prepared for it.”

Guerrero was one of about 15 cosmetology students at West Forsyth High School who did hair, nails and some makeup for the bridal party Saturday.

The students have done work with the school’s color guard, drama department and other local groups, but instructor Joyce Thomas said this was their first wedding.

“I think they really surprised themselves,” she said. “Because a lot of the time in activities like this, it’s like competitions, their best work comes out and they get to ... really tap into a lot of creativity that I don’t think they even knew that they had.

“They were very pleased with the results.”

Thomas said the students, who proved themselves at the wedding, will continue to branch out.

They plan to offer packages for parties, weddings and other events to help them reach the required 1,500 hours of training to become a state licensed cosmetologist.

The students have been working on the retail aspect of managing a salon, selling retail products and taking orders. Some are even interning at various salons through the work-based learning program.

“It really kind of gives them a lot of experience in learning how to deal with the public,” Thomas said.

Learning those skills and passing the state board exam are important, she said, but the students also must “know the business end,” particularly if they want to some day open their own salon.

“They’ve got to know how to balance things out, how to do a lot of record keeping, as well as the skill area itself,” she said.

In addition to Sweatman, the students worked on the bride and groom’s mothers, two bridesmaids and the maid of honor.

Only the advanced students, who have reached at least 250 hours of training, were allowed to help the bridal party. The rest of the students served as assistants.

Prior to the wedding day, the bridal party met with the students for a trial run, to make sure all the kinks were worked out in advance.

Citlalli Ordaz wasn’t as lucky. The junior was in charge of doing hair for the groom’s mother, who wasn’t able to make the practice session.

“I did an up-do on her, a French twist,” she said. “I was a little bit nervous, especially because it’s such a big event. Weddings aren’t an everyday thing.

“But once I got the idea and I got focused on what I was going to do and did it, I calmed down and pulled it through.”

Like Guerrero, Ordaz entered the cosmetology program out of curiosity as a freshman. It has blossomed into a potential future.

But first, Ordaz said, she’s going to pursue a master’s degree in business, “and then go from there.”

“I like to make people feel happy about themselves,” she said. “It’s gotten to a point where I think that I would like to go more than high school with this. I would like to make a living out of this.”