Ivy Phillips, a freshman at Pinkerton Academy from Derry, has had long hair “since I was 5.” She admitted to being “kind of scared” as stylist Alexis Combes clipped her 14-inch mane. “But,” Phillips predicted, “It will grow back. And it’s for a good cause.”
The cause was wigs for cancer patients, and the students, mostly girls, parted with their long locks gladly at the second annual Pantene Beautiful Lengths hair-cutting event. The snipping and clipping took place in the Pinkerton Academy Cosmetology salon, under the guidance of cosmetology faculty and with the sharp scissors of both students and professional stylists. The event was organized and sponsored by the Student Council.
Phillips had been thinking about shorter hair for a while, she said. When she made the decision, she waited another two months for the Pantene event.
She has been touched by cancer, but not directly, she said. “A friend’s mother got skin cancer. It was a tough time but she got better,” Phillips said.
Derry freshmen Abby Dubuc and Samantha Leone arrived together, but not for courage. They had already decided this was what they wanted to do. “I want to try short hair and it’s for a good cause,” Dubuc said. Dubuc’s hair would be cut by someone who knows it well: her older sister Lauren, who graduated from the cosmetology program. While the older Dubuc isn’t working in the field, she came back to Pinkerton to volunteer her skills.
“It looks good,” Leone said as she watched the Dubucs and waited her turn.
In a back room, Student Council Adviser John Breda fielded questions, directed volunteers and handed out doughnuts. “This is a collaboration between the Student Council, Cosmetology and local businesses,” he said. “We have had 18 students and one teacher register to donate their hair.” There were six or seven professionals donating their time as well as 10 student stylists, he said.
Student Council officer Delaney Conway said she got the idea after talking with some students from Londonderry, where the Pantene program is a tradition at the high school there.
Keryl Rabideau, director of the cosmetology program, said, “This is all Student Council. We’re just the background.”
It was, Rabideau added, “An amazing day.”
Alex Moorhead, a sophomore from Hampstead, said the last time she had her hair cut was when she was in second or third grade. The fact that the hair goes to wigs is “really nice,” Moorhead said. Her grandmother is fighting cancer, and, Moorhead said, is winning so far.
“I think it’s awesome,” Monique Trinidad, a student in the program, said as she sectioned off Moorhead’s hair. “Ms. Rabideau likes us to be involved in a lot of things.”
While most of the girls went for swingy, shoulder-length styles, Melanie Burgos, a junior from Derry, got a short, layered cut from Kelly Felter, one of the program’s instructors. “It will be nice for summer,’ Burgos said. “I don’t have to have long hair, and someone else deserves it.”
Some of the young women in the chair hadn’t had their hair cut for a long, long time. But Jillian Spera, a junior from Derry, is a veteran. “I’ve done Locks of Love twice,” she said, referring to a similar program with the American Cancer Society. “But it’s my first time here.”
Spera made it personal, noting, “One of my aunts had cancer. She’s better now, but I still feel I want to help.”
Pinkerton junior Jillian Spera awaits her new layered cut from professional stylist Bethany Bessette in the Pantene Beautiful Lengths event at Pinkerton Academy’s Cosmetology salon. Photo by Kathleen D. Bailey