Hair dryers whirred amid a background of relaxing music Monday, Salon Day at Henderson Bay High School.
Twinkling lights illuminated black and white curtains in the entryway of what had, until recently, been an ordinary classroom. Staff and volunteers revamped the room for the annual event where students can get a new look or just a trim from professional stylists volunteering their time.
Henderson Bay High School student Robert Mack-Ward checks out the haircut he’s just gotten from Amanda Johns of Brassfields Salon and Spa of Tacoma. Monday was Salon Day at the high school, hosted by Communities in Schools with volunteer stylists.
“It’s a weird transformation,” said student Aidan Fredrickson. “A couple of days ago this wasn’t here, and now it’s a salon.”
Sophia White of Brassfields Salon and Spa of Tacoma gave Fredrickson a haircut. That should help with the summer job search.
“It looks like I stepped into a whole different building,” said Robert Mack-Ward, a 10th grade student whose stylist was Amanda Johns, also of Brassfields. “And my hair looks really good. It got really long. I think that they’re really professional, and they took the time to listen to what I wanted. So, it was really great. I enjoyed the experience.”
Robin Malich of Communities in Schools, a nonprofit with staff members embedded in Peninsula schools, organizes the event. Communities in Schools works alongside teachers and other staff to fill gaps for the students.
On some days, that might be connecting them with community services like counseling. On others, the group might help them find a job, get a driver’s license, or take them to appointments.
Henderson Bay High School senior Dean Cronemeyer gives a thumbs up for the styling he’s just received from Priya Harmon of Symbols Spa’lon of Tacoma. Monday was Salon Day at the high school, hosted by Communities in Schools with volunteer stylists.
“Those kinds of things,” Malich said. “Because we have kids that, for whatever reason, maybe they just don’t have family involvement … some of those things.”
The Communities in Schools affiliate that works with Peninsula School District in February received an $800,000 donation from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott, the former wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.
Malich, Henderson Bay’s site coordinator for Communities in Schools, hosted Salon Day for three years before the pandemic. This is the first year it’s been back since Covid-19 interrupted normal school life in 2020.
Leading up to Monday, she was buzzing around, arranging period furniture and setting up stations.
“So, we shift the whole classroom into a bougie salon and then just make them feel pampered,” Malich said.
“It’s a way to give back, just help kids out and make them feel good about themselves,” said stylist Priya Harmon of Symbols Spa’lon in Tacoma. This is her fourth year of volunteering for Salon Day.
Starbucks on Kimball Drive donated pastries, coffee and strawberry lemonade. Students received goodie bags and got to pick out hair styling products donated by businesses and through a partnership with World Vision.
Goodie bags await students who took part in Salon Day at Henderson Bay High School. The annual event is hosted by Communities in Schools with volunteer stylists.
Henderson Bay High School, with fewer than 100 students, according to the state, is an alternative high school. The school provides highly personalized instruction and support for students for whom traditional high school just isn’t a good fit.
The reasons are varied.
Gig Harbor Now is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, funded by donations from readers like you. Through December 31st, all donations up to $1,000 will be matched by NewsMatch. Please consider donating today!
“Over the pandemic, my grades kind of got low,” said Mack-Ward. “So, I came here to get my grades up, which has been going well.”
“It’s a great school. It’s like family here,” said Fredrickson.
According to Malich, a high number of Henderson Bay students are low-income.
“I think it’s so nice that you don’t have to pay 50 bucks for a little haircut and that they come here, and they’re all really nice,” said junior Crystal Parker.
Cierra Clap, a 12th grade student, showed off bright red highlights framing her face.
“I wanted to do something colorful, but I also couldn’t commit to bleaching all of my hair,” she said.
“This is the best job ever,” Malich said. “This is my favorite day of all days here at Henderson Bay because the kids just come out and they look shiny. You know, and they’re just happy.”
Henderson Bay High School student Crystal Parker (left) waits her turn on Salon Day, Monday at the high school, as student Quinn Lehman has his hair styled by Priya Harmon of Symbols Spa’lon of Tacoma.
We can’t do it without you. Public service news requires community support.
Sign up now for the Gig Harbor Now weekly newsflash to stay abreast of everything that’s happened in the past seven days.