River Road ISD unveils new Cosmetology Center

Ribbon cutting Wednesday morning of the River Road ISD Cosmetology Center (ABC 7 Amarillo - Abby Aldrich)

River Road Independent School District unveiled the new Cosmetology Center Wednesday.

The new facility adds on to the new high school education programs of Welding Certification and Nurse Assistant Certification.

River Road ISD along with Sen. Kel Seliger, Potter County Judge Nancy Tanner and Amarillo Chamber of Commerce officials cut the ribbon symbolizing the opening of the cosmetology addition.

The idea came about four years ago when then-Gov. Rick Perry signed into law House Bill 5. The hope was to create pathways in order to help students receive their diplomas, while focusing on career and technical areas.

Superintendent Richard Kelley said the goal is to decrease the number of students who leave high school and do not find work or end up at a minimum wage job.

"We wanted to give our kids options, but we did not want to give the kid the option of a minimum wage job,” said Kelley.

Christina Putnam, the cosmetology instructor, said students participating in the program will have the opportunity to learn acrylic and gel nails, how to give facials, makeup applications, eye lash extensions, hair cuts, colors and perms.

"Anything that you can think of, these girls are going to do," Putnam said. "These skills will transfer anywhere because we are going to learn customer service. We are going to learn a lot of money handling skills and just the way we behave in the professional setting."

RRISD has also added several new welding stations and purchased a state-of-the-art plasma cutter for student training.

With three certification programs, students spend half of the school day learning the basic fundamentals. The other half is spent building on those classes in the particular field that they want to pursue.

“We're going to see [these students] working in a professional salon, or they are going to be welding or working in a hospital or nursing home as [certified nursing assistants]," Putnam said.

Remington Cooke is a senior at the high school in the Nurse Assistant Certification program. She said she is excited about the program taking action and believes it will help out her dreams of becoming a nurse in the long run.

“I feel like this is a big stepping stone," Cooke said. "When you go into college, you have to start fresh. You don’t have anything and then having the CNA to step onto to get my nursing degree, it is fantastic. It will help so much.”

District Nurse Kim Franks said there are currently 10 seniors in the program and the students will be certified nursing assistants after they take a state exam in May. Franks said the students learn medical terminology, health science technology, CNA skills and go to Amarillo College once a week to practice their skills in a college setting.

With Phase 1 in action, Kelley said by 2019 the district will look at adding more programs. However, they will first make sure they have the growth to sustain them and meet the needs of Amarillo's future.

“We don’t want to graduate kids that don’t have jobs because there are none," Kelley said. "So it’s important to us to make sure that we are projecting along with business leaders in Amarillo and Texas to see exactly what we are needing."

Kelley tells ABC 7 News he hopes to keep the cosmetology, welding and nurse assistant programs running as long as the school is still standing. He said the district has no idea what the new programs will be, but they are looking at heating, ventilation and air conditioning, plumbing, emergency medical technicians and a vet technician program.

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