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KHSD's cosmetology school is open for business

The Kern High School District's cosmetology program is accepting new clients.

On Tuesday, Kern Learn English teacher Julie Burnett dropped by for an appointment to get her acrylics filled in from cosmetology students. She opted for blood red polish to be spooky for October. The prices are affordable, she said, and she enjoys helping her students practice their skills. But also, she loves the experience.

"I need to get my girlfriends down here," Burnett said. "They really are professional."

Right now the menu of services at the ROC School of Cosmetology Salon includes facials, waxing as well as manicure and pedicure services. Hair cutting is next on the curriculum but it's not on the menu yet. However, students have been practicing hair color, updos, blowouts and other hair services on family, friends and fellow students, and so those are available to the public now.

On Tuesday, Diana Carreno, a senior at Arvin High, was getting highlights by a fellow classmate. Carreno had faith in their skills, but she was still a little nervous about coloring her hair.

"I'm putting all my trust in them," she laughed. 

This isn't the first time the still-gleaming new salon has been open to the public. The cosmetology program, now in its third year, is part of a new complex of buildings at the Regional Occupational Center on Mount Vernon Avenue that opened in fall 2019. That includes programs for construction, veterinary technology, automotive technology and culinary arts. 

However, the salon's grand opening to the public in February 2020 didn't last long, less than a month before the pandemic shut down schools.

But the students said they are eager and ready for clients. 

"We are being trained here the same as adults," said Centennial senior Eve Coontz. "We're all responsible kids."

Coontz said she has been practicing special effects make-up since she was in fifth grade, and she always felt at home in a salon. She's hoping to continue to learn about how to do special effects, so she can break into the entertainment industry.

Coontz said she appreciated that the program was saving her so much money. Prices vary depending on the school and specialty, but studying cosmetology can set students back as much as $25,000. 

KHSD's cosmetology program is a rigorous one that sets students up to pass the state cosmetology board licensing exam, according to advanced cosmetology instructor Julie Todahl. The program is a serious commitment for students: 14 months, 1,600 hours, summer school and lots of practice. That's where clients come in. 

Todahl said the administration has been generous in granting the program everything it needs to stay up to date in the field. Besides the spacious salon itself, there's a laundry room, lockers, a break room, classrooms and an aesthetician room. When a student needs help figuring out a coloring question, Todahl pulls down an interactive whiteboard and jots out a formula to help solve it.

Jessica Arevalo, a cosmetology instructor who specializes in skin care, said the program works to cover the full range of what a student in the industry should know, including working with hair extensions or facial peels. 

"They're ready to work and employable," she said.

The salon is open Tuesday and Thursday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. For appointments, visit or call 661-396-4918.

You can reach Emma Gallegos at 661-395-7394.