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INDIANAPOLIS — Inside of Pike High School is something you probably wouldn't expect to see, a working, fully staffed barber shop.
This is where students have the opportunity to learn exactly the skills they need to get a job as a professional barber. Right now 40 students are part of the two-year program.
Program instructor, Mashonda Gilmore, says the barber program is different than their cosmetology program, which the school also offers.
"The difference with barbering and cosmetology is the use of a straight razor on the skin," Gilmore said. "The barbering curriculum also goes more in depth as it pertains to skin, skin disorders, diseases and care for the skin."
Students like James Taylor were grateful to learn of the opportunity offered at the school.
"I've always had a fascination with cutting hair," said Taylor, who is a senior in his second year of the program.
Taylor plans to go to college after he graduates, but he knows not all of his peers have the same future and he's glad they have the chance to leave high school with a career option.
"I know not all people want to go to college when they get older," Taylor said. "I want to go to college but not a lot of people do so it's good to have another option that is healthy and legal and good to do after you get out of school."
Students in the program graduate with a certification that enables them to work in a barbershop right when they finish school.
Some learn precision cutting, facials and the art of shaving. They also gain skills that can apply in any career they choose like professionalism, marketing skills and how to build their brand.
Gilmore says the $3 billion barbering industry needs more professionals and the teens that choose this program shouldn't have any problem getting a job.
"Our goal here is to produce professional barbers to work in the industry," Gilmore said.
Students practice on each other, family members and eventually the public.