Washington Junior High School Students Get Haircuts at NEST Cafe and Demonstrate Hairdressing Techniques


Emarion Harris put a lot of effort into cutting and trimming their beards.

The 13-year-old boy’s hand held the tool firmly, buzzed his hair to the floor, and a mirror held up signaled that the cut was complete and ready to check the work. .

Harris’ skills today are in stark contrast to when he first picked up clippers to cut his hair, said a middle school student in Washington. After spending months learning how to handle his hair, he feels more confident.

“It’s not as scary as it was the first time,” said the eighth grader.

Washington State students set up shop at Rock Island nonprofit restaurant NEST Cafe on Thursday to cut the hair of community members. Among Emarion Harris’ first clients was his Lights on for Learning coordinator, Larry Harris Jr.

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“I usually do it myself, but my significant other said, ‘Why don’t you let the kids do it,'” Larry Harris Jr. said. I thought, ‘That’s a great idea.'”

About 10 students participate in the Washington Middle School Barber Club, which meets weekly to learn about the profession and the practical skills needed to do it well. Club members cut the hair of fellow students, faculty and staff.

The club grew out of a summer course in hairdressing through an after-school program by Lights on for Learning, Larry Harris Jr. said. Supervised by George Todd, owner of Supreme Legacy Barbershop.

Some of the club’s more senior members had appointments at the NEST cafe. The student volunteered to serve food at a paying restaurant.

Emarion Harris hopes to continue honing his barber skills as he grows.

Larry Harris Jr. said: “Hopefully, they can enter high school and continue their careers in the courses offered by the high school.”

Larry Harris Jr. said he could see a shift from uncertainty to confidence in how students work with clients.

Students are learning not only the trade skills necessary for the barber trade, but also how to act professionally with time management, accountability, and clear communication.

Emarion Harris learned how to respect people and resolve conflicts peacefully.

“They also learn how to be men,” Larry Harris Jr. said. “It’s not just about the hairdressing aspect, it’s about life lessons.”

In the future, Larry Harris Jr. hopes to expand the Lights on for Learning program to include plumbing, HVAC, and carpet trade, for example. Besides the barbershop, he can learn to knit and sew after school.

Before joining the club, Emarion Harris said he had no interest in hairdressing. Now he works with other students, school staff and Quad-Citians to improve their skills so that the school can give them the opportunity to learn about non-traditional subjects so that they are on the right track. He said it was important to help

“If school doesn’t give kids opportunities, chances are they’re going out and doing things they shouldn’t be doing,” he said.

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